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3040 - Writing on Business & Society Course Descriptions

The following list is alphabetical, by instructor last name. The course offerings below are for the Spring 2018 semester. Check the current Course Schedule.

ECONOMIES FOR WRITING, John M. Ackerman, Associate Professor
This seminar welcomes any major in Arts and Sciences and beyond to learn and practice different economies that circulate in our lives and with different consequences.  Any form of “business writing” whether motivated for profit or for public benefit nests in these different economic circumstances and therefore reproduces (or alters) those circumstances.  Our course will delve into differences among orthodox, creative, cultural, and political economies, all tangible in our daily lives and all serving as contexts and motives for writing.  We will consider historical precursors to current economic policies rooted in land, circulation, digitization, and the home.  We will learn how to build “intentional communities” based in local routines, currencies, values, and language.  The genres (types) of writing we practice will echo those aligned with for-profit business interests (e.g., the feasibility report, briefing memo, proposal) as they also depart from these forms to sponsor locally-made arguments for economic equity.
Cross-cultural writing is a section of WRTG 3020, 3030, and 3040 that is intended for non-native speakers of English who wish to enroll in an upper-division writing course. The course is taught as a rigorous writing workshop using advanced readings and materials, emphasizing critical thinking, analysis, and argumentative writing. Examples of assignments include daily writing activities used in scientific and technical communication such as memos, emails, wiki entries, resumes and cover letters. Course readings focus on cross-cultural communication in the arts, business, and scientific fields. Future work in these fields will require you to write and speak clearly to an inter-disciplinary audience; accordingly, coursework will include a formal oral presentation. Assignments will be tailored to meet the needs and interests of individual students. The final project for this course is to create a document related to the student's field that can stand on its own in the real world.

WRTG 3040 will examine writing for organizational contexts from a rhetorical perspective. This means that instead of learning to produce a thing called “business writing,” we will look at business writing as a process of inquiry, production, and refinement. More concretely, this class will ask you to practice this process by exploring a particular career or career path (in an essay), analyzing the communication strategies and values of an organization related to that career (in an essay), revisiting your life experiences (in a multimedia presentation), and finally by producing documents that you might use in an actual job search. Throughout the semester, we’ll also investigate and practice oral and non-verbal communication skills relevant to your life and path.

Above all, though, this is a writing class. This means that in addition to the more specific projects outlined above, we’ll predominantly focus on the processes of writing and inquiry as fundamentally social (an argument you’ll probably get tired of hearing your instructor make) and ongoing (which means that you’ll write much, MUCH more than you’ll turn in).

Writing for business can be among the most creative and stimulating professional challenges you will encounter, all stereotypes to the contrary. Business writing can include writing blogs and editorials, developing branding concepts for new ventures, writing white papers on key issues, preparing a grant proposal for your own venture or for a nonprofit, pitching an elevator proposal, composing a business plan for your new business, concocting a killer cover letter to go with your shine-in-the-dark resume – you get the idea. The stakes are unusually high in business writing – either you write something really really good and land the contract/customer/audience/raise or whatever – or you don’t. And now, post the 2008 Recession, there is yet another high stake – contributing to a culture of Corporate Social Responsibility. This class recognizes and addresses all of these stakes. Designed for juniors and seniors majoring in business, economics, and international studies, the course will help you address your writing:
  • Hone your rhetorical analysis, critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills
  • Gain rhetorical tools to accelerate your ability to produce new genres in settings beyond this class
  • Apply your disciplinary expertise to issues in corporate and public policy, with an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, business ethics, and communication
  • Shape communication to the audiences, purposes, and issues found within a professional context
  • Practice working constructively within a community of communicators
Equally importantly, you will evaluate what Corporate Social Responsibility issues lie in the business world, what acts are really responsible and what is simply “greenwash,” and investigate through research and writing what the issues are and consider where you will fit, and how you will communicate your ideas within the working world. The course will be conducted as a workshop in which your own writing and speaking projects serve as core materials. Although there is no formal prerequisite, the work requires that you already have some facility in writing. We will focus on the communication strategies and forms as well as the analysis, argument, and crafting that drive professional writing—that is, on shaping your writing and speaking so that your point is focused, compelling, persuasive, and supported with evidence. We will also explore sources that are commonly used in conducting business research.
This section of WRTG 3040 will emphasize what may be called practical rhetoric in continually probing what sort of compositional decisions will be effective in business situations. Although our assignments will center on traditional forms of business writing, our readings will raise larger issues about business procedure and, ultimately, citizenship. This larger perspective will take us to the discussions about what is summarized as "advanced rhetorical knowledge" and centered in the field of Rhetoric/Composition. In the end, all students will have the opportunity to leave this course with a rhetorically oriented understanding of the writing process that they can use for any occasion in pursuing their professional careers.
Designed for juniors and seniors majoring in business, economics, and international studies, the course gives you the communication tools to present yourself and your ideas persuasively in a professional setting. We will cover short forms of professional communication as well as a series of oral, written, and visual forms designed to reach multiple audiences with messages drawn from an extended research project. You will:
  • Apply your disciplinary expertise to addressing professional and public issues
  • Shape communication to the audiences and purposes found within professional and public contexts
  • Hone your rhetorical analysis, critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills
  • Identify your own communication strengths and challenges and learn to address them independently
  • Gain rhetorical tools to accelerate your ability to produce new genres in settings beyond the class
  • Practice working constructively within a community of communicators
The course will be conducted as a workshop in which your own writing and speaking projects serve as core materials.
This section of WRTG 3040 examines the politics of popular culture and marketing, both globally and in our everyday lives. Major questions guiding our work will include: How our social values affect our purchasing decisions? In what ways does marketing and advertising target our social values as consumers? And most importantly, how can business be an instrument for social change? We will address these questions through independent research into various consumer subcultures. Designed as a workshop, this class will primarily read and discuss student writing in addition to giving each student a chance to share their writing with the class and improve it with their help. Through their writing, presentations, and class participation, students will leave this class with a stronger command over their writing and a deeper understanding of the communication skills necessary for meaningfully engaging in professional settings.