Thus far in the semester, students have examined their own beliefs and practiced communicating in thoughtful, productive ways on issues of complexity and potential divisiveness. In this assignment, students direct their rhetorical skills to persuading audiences and advocating for causes and ideas. Students are challenged to identify a topic of interest and passion, thoroughly research and present that research in the form of an issue brief, or white paper, and then devise a project that advocates for the change they wish to see. Some RCL sections choose to compile their work in the style of an advocacy organization or “think-tank” website.
The Issue Brief
The aim of this 7-10-page, policy-oriented “issue brief” (or position paper) is to draw on all the rhetorical skills students have been building, incorporating research and analysis in a responsible and convincing way. For this issue brief, students will make a sophisticated, substantiated case for implementing, changing, or enforcing a policy or strategy.
The Advocacy Campaign
For this assignment, students will draw on studies and performances to produce an advocacy piece for the issue featured in their position papers or blog topics. After giving thought to the specific action they would like to encourage, students choose an appropriate communicative mode for this advocacy work. Its “sharability” or potential to become “viral” should also be a factor.
Class “Think Tank” Pages
Some classes choose to compile their issue briefs, advocacy projects, and other course work into a “think tank” or advocacy organization website. It’s exciting to see their efforts come together in one place.