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PWR 2KA: The Rhetoric of Everyday Conservation

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Fall 2021: Not offered

Winter 2022: TTh 9:30AM-11:15AM; 11:30AM-1:15PM

Spring 2022: TTh 9:30AM-11:15AM; 11:30AM-1:15PM

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1, ESF, ITALIC 95W, or equivalent

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

From drones that map the deforestation of the Amazon for reforestation, to apps that suggest the best fish for a conservation-minded dinner, to sculpture art made from ocean detritus-- small technological, innovative, and design decisions move us toward conservation in our world. Often, though, society becomes overwhelmed by conservation efforts—and experiences conservation fatigue. How can we approach this problem by focusing in on the everyday changes we can make for conservation? In this class you’ll look at one issue within conservation and research innovative, design, and communicative practices around it to communicate about that topic in a way we, as a society, can consume and make changes. We’ll explore what inspires and keeps us engaged in the conservation of our world using an ethical, research-based scientific approach.

You will pull inspiration from Rachel Carson’s foundational work on pesticides, Silent Spring, John Muir’s My Summer in the Sierras, and The Forgotten Tribe by Lisa Emerson before exploring their topics in written, spoken, filmed, and even cartooned-forms.

Possible topics for the course may be ways to choose wisely with plastics, how to conserve the ocean from the dinner table, the impact vegetarianism makes, and when click-through hashtag activism can work. You will learn rhetorical skills to encourage everyday change toward our pet conservation efforts—animal wildlife, marine life, pollution, logging, plastics, oil, energy—including public speaking, concise and engaging written and spoken work, turning scientific data into presentation points, and communicating emotively without giving in to emotion.

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5 minutes of oral presentation, written text of 900-1200 words): You will propose a conservation issue—such as plastics, oceanic pollution, climate change, or deforestation—to delve into for the quarter. Your proposal should offer a rationale for study by narrowing your topic down to one communication issue of the environmental problem, ways it has been communicated previously. It will include a clear research question with concretely defined terms, a proposed primary research method, and utilize secondary sources.

Written Research-Based Argument

(10-12 pages or 3000-3600 words of research-based writing): After conducting one type of primary research (as proposed in your RP) you will create an academic argument that incorporates a range of sources on a conservation topic. The final project should be aimed at a journal appropriate to the discourse community of the conservation issue, whether it is barriers to animal movement, land-use, biodiversity, or water or air pollution.  


Delivery of Research

(10 minutes of live oral presentation with multimedia support): You translate their research-based argument and present it in a live, oral presentation engaging with visual support. Potential ideas for this are using Instagram visuals that inspire others to use less plastic, highlighting a website that track deforestation, or interspersing audio or visual data, such as a brief clip or imagery from a Ted Talk on conservation and conservation research.

Genre/Modes Assignment

You will translate their conservation research and argument into an alternate mode or genre, such as a plastics podcast, a land-use op-ed, an otter-conservation Youtube video, a turtle-saving Twitter thread, or an overfishing poster-infographic.

Hand holding recyclable plastic water bottle.