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​​Project 3:
Rhetoric in Action

Learning Outcomes
  • Successfully integrates personal narrative of social action experience
  • Successfully constructs an argument that works as a tool for change
  • Successfully integrates sources that support or illuminate the focus of the essay
  • Anticipates possible objections and addresses them
  • Suggests applicable courses of action
  • Successfully employs first person in relaying personal experience
  • Use the writing process, including invention, drafting, revising, peer review, and editing strategies
  • Use academic conventions such as MLA
  • Use multiple genres to present arguments (e.g, letter, website, video, artwork, flyer, pamphlet, panel, demonstration)   
Genre Conventions
  • Audience: primary: opponent; secondary: instructor and peers
  • Purpose: connect rhetorical theory and appeals to actual social practice
  • Format: MLA
Thesis or Focus

How can your ideas and passion about an issue translate into a tangible act? The focus of this project is a persuasive essay that promotes social action and a dynamic presentation that informs and persuades.  These genres take things beyond simple informational discussions by offering sound ways that the issue can be solved.  Your audience, therefore, is any group of people that is predisposed to disagree with your argument, or any group of people who have not previously acted on this issue in effective ways.  When writing to this kind of skeptical audience, it is important to use a tone that will make that audience want to agree with you: calm but firm and considerate of other points of view, and extremely knowledgeable.


Project Three challenges students to take a stand on a public issue and to use language to facilitate positive social action.  Students apply rhetorical principles such as ethos, pathos, and logos as they write for a real audience of their choice (for example, creating a website or sending a cover letter and persuasive report to a state senator). In the first two ENC1102 projects, you learned about rhetorical strategies of argumentation (Project One) and how to consider various differing views on a particular controversial topic (Project Two). In Project Three, you will lean on this knowledge to help you research a topic of personal and social significance and then argue for change. There are a wide variety of topics that you could write about (see below for examples); ask yourself what in the world needs changing, perhaps on a local, global, political, or social level.  Your job is to convince your readers of the importance of your chosen topic and motivate them to enact change by offering a well-researched and persuasive argument. It’s not enough, however, to argue for a change; this project will also ask you to participate in enacting some sort of change.  


There are two parts to this project: the essay and the action/presentation. Please note that your instructor will apply different weights to each portion of this assignment.

Essay: Write a persuasive, 1000-word essay that a) educates your audience about an issue that needs changing, b) invites them to your point of view, c) acknowledges and refutes opposing arguments, and d) motivates readers to act in specific ways. Your essay should work directly to effect change on the given issue. You must include specific actions that your audience members may consider to correct this problem. Use at least four sources to develop your argument including one that appropriately represents an opposing view.

Action: In addition to your persuasive essay, you must perform one of the actions you recommend in your essay (with instructor approval).  This action might be a letter to a government representative, a persuasive online video, a podcast, or work of art.  Additionally, you might create fliers or pamphlets, organize a panel discussion or debate on campus, participate in a demonstration, create a social networking Web page, organize a public event, create a discussion board, or find other ways to draw attention to your chosen topic.

At your instructor’s discretion, this portion of the project may be completed by individuals or groups. For group projects, it is recommended that the group coordinate a series of actions/events that exhibit the group members’ individual talents.

After completing your action, many instructors (at their discretion) will ask you to make a 10 minute presentation to the class that summarizes your findings about your chosen social injustice, gives an overview of the social action you performed in order to promote social change, and briefly reflects on how you feel this project stimulated your growth as a writer.
Project Tips

1.    Many students make the mistake of simply repeating the suggestions of other authors instead of coming up with their own calls for action. If those arguments were sufficient, why does your chosen injustice continue to be a problem? When considering the suggestions of other authors on your given topic, try to use your knowledge of various arguments and rhetorical devices to make an even more effective call to action.

2.    Sometimes, students fail to persuade their readers because they do not accurately represent an opposing argument. Therefore, as you write your paper, you should spend as much time considering various legitimate counter-arguments as you do your own, so that your argument is as persuasive as possible. If your readers can see that you’ve considered a wide range of diverse viewpoints, they will be more likely to value your position as reasonable and impartial. 

3.    Try to keep your audience in mind as you write and revise your essay, especially when recommending actions that could be taken to affect your chosen problem.  For instance, if you’re writing to address the problem of wasted gasoline used by students who drive to campus instead of walking, riding bikes, or taking the bus, it will be unconvincing to a student audience to simply say, “Students should ride their bikes more often.”  Think deeper—what exactly keeps students from riding their bikes?  (Heat?  Convenience?  Speed?)  You need to craft recommendations that people might actually do, argued persuasively to consider possible objections they might have.

4.    Some suggested topics to write about:

USF Topics:
Employee benefits (vacation time, salary for people working at different levels, etc.)
Environmental consciousness
Social injustice on campus (racism, classism, homophobism, etc.)
Any other perceived unfairness that demands a response

Tampa Topics:
City or county efforts to reduce homelessness
Education Policy
A dangerous traffic intersection
A legistlative focus on unimportant things instead of crucial social problems

National Topics:
Health care inequalities
Responses to the economic crisis
A culture of selfishness
The need for individuals to better cultivate committed, meaningful relationships

Global Topics:
Lack of drinking water
Efforts to coordniate global responses to poverty, the environment, the economic crisis, etc.

Early Draft
The Early Draft should be an outline or other organizing draft that includes a working thesis and a brief explanation of major points. This draft should clearly demonstrate that the student has thought about their resistant audience and what action will correspond to their ideas.
Intermediate Draft

The Intermediate Draft should be a working draft that addresses how to educate and persuade an audience into action. This draft should include a thesis, all major points, evidence to support these points (including in-text citations from appropriate sources), and a Works Cited page.

Final Draft

The final draft will be an 1,000 word essay that utilizes the rhetorical techniques learnt up until this point and that provides a clear path for practice.

 Student Project: Child Sexual Abuse



 Audio/Video: Rhetoric in Action

 Student Project -- Save Darfur
 Student Project: A Stolen Fairytale
 Student Project: Tampa Homeless Speak
 Morgan Freeman: The Power of Words
 Vanko Antonov: Save the Water, Save the World

 Documents: Rhetoric in Action

List Five - Accessing Emotions.pptxList Five - Accessing Emotions
Student Success Newsletter April 2011.pdfStudent Success Newsletter April 2011
iSlaves - The Labor Behind Apple's Innovative Products.pdfiSlaves - The Labor Behind Apple's Innovative Products

 Sample Student Texts: Rhetoric in Action

Make a Motion for the Ocean.pdfMake a Motion for the Ocean
Sex Education.pdfSex Education
Muslim Discrimination After 9-11.pdfMuslim Discrimination After 9-11
Human Trafficking.pdfHuman Trafficking
Global Warming.pdfGlobal Warming
Stray Animals.pdfStray Animals
(More Documents...)