Previous Research Guide
Lloyd Blankfein famously claimed that he was doing "God's Work" as CEO of Goldman Sachs, and insisted that the modern banking profession serves a "social purpose." In a presentation to McKinsey & Company, the firm he helped to create, Marvin Bower reminded his fellow management consultants: "We are a profession, we are not a business."
Sustainability has quickly become a buzzword that is used to make arguments about law, education, policy, and even what sort of toothbrush you ought to buy. While the term, sustainability, is used in various ways, it is concerned with imagining a future and persuading others of its desirability and feasibility. It is thus something that we all have a stake in regardless of whether we identify as environmentalists.
Although we will examine various definitions of sustainability, in this course you will focus on your own sustainability-related research project. This leaves you almost infinite choice and you will be encouraged to pursue a project that fascinates you and (if you wish) that fits with your major. You could end up researching green design, sustainable urbanism, sustainability in sports, the role of art and images, corporate sustainability policies, celebrity activism, sustainable development, or just about anything else that piques your curiosity.
The goal of this course is to help you become a more effective researcher and communicator in your own area of interest. Course readings and activities will acquaint us with 1) some of the key terms and strategies of environmental rhetoric and 2) strategies and approaches to effectively talking about and presenting research. By the end of the course, I hope that you will have become an expert in your research topic and able to make the impact you'd like in your writing and presenting.
Research Proposal (c. 600 words; 3 minute oral presentation): In this assignment you will propose a narrowly focused research project that explores some aspect of sustainability. In the proposal presentation you will lay out your interests and central questions; your research approach and likely sources; and you will enlist the class in helping you think about how to improve and realize your ideas.
What do President Obama, Steve Jobs, Margaret Cho, Lawrence Lessig, all have in common? In politics, industry, entertainment, and academia, great public speakers are seen as "clutch" performers—spontaneous and fast on their feet in high-stress situations, with an innate feel for audience. Many people consider this intrinsic or learned "on-your-feet ability" to be the most important aspect of presentation: what can I pull up out of me to "nail" this "performance"?
However, this high-risk strategy puts great stress on the speaker and can undermine a speech's success. And it's a misperception of what makes a speaker great. The presentations of Obama, Jobs, Cho, and Lessig are based in deep knowledge, long experience, careful preparation and the specific personalities that inform their different styles. In this class, we'll approach public speaking not as a "putting on" of a "polished speaker" persona, but as a cultivation of one's own interests, passions, and personality. We'll focus on a series of developmental preparations, design choices, rehearsals, and revisions of the material that allow the speaker a greater state of confidence in managing live public speaking moments.
Our work will be shaped by key concepts in rhetorical/performance theory and the scholarship of human communication, as well as critical evaluation of models. We'll watch or listen to live and recorded performances: an inspirational speech by a fictional coach in Friday Night Lights, Hillary Clinton's 1995 Beijing speech on women's rights/human rights, Stanford President Hennessy's convocation. You'll help shape our discussion by bringing examples for analysis, dissection, imitation or rejection. Did you love or hate Sasha Baron Cohen's provocation of people in Borat? Are you inspired or horrified by Sarah Palin? What can the film The King's Speech tell us about public speaking?
Newspapers are dying. In the last two years, major newspapers the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News were shut down. The future of others looks bleak. What happened?
For more than a century it has been relatively easy to read the newspaper. Daily newspapers were inexpensive and widely available. With a few coins, you could buy one on at a neighborhood store or from a corner box. Newspapers kept citizens informed about political debates, covered global conflicts, and exposed corruption through investigative journalism. The daily newspaper also supported communities: people turned to a newspaper if they wanted to get a job, buy a house, rent an apartment, clip coupons, follow campaign coverage, find out what the city council was up to, or know whether their team won or lost. In the last few years, this has all changed. Craigslist has better and free classifieds. Monster.com has more jobs. We turn to our mobile phones for sports scores or stock quotes. So, why does anybody still read the newspaper? Why might it matter if print newspapers die?
In this course, we will consider the debates about how newspapers matter in our daily lives, shape our communities, encourage public accountability, and respond to technological change. Through your own research, you'll contribute to ongoing discussions and debates: What future is there for the print newspaper? How can newspapers make the transition to a digital future? Do newspapers still serve a purpose?
Journalists, academics, bloggers, and technology experts of all kinds have weighed in on the 'death of the newspaper.' Their arguments will provide material and topics for your research. In class, we will examine Dave Egger's San Francisco Panorama as an argument for future of the printed newspaper; we will read Paul Starr's scholarly analysis of the 'unbundling' of the newspaper industry by online media and the looming death of investigative journalism; and we will read blogger, science fiction writer and technology pundit Cory Doctorow's argument that digital newspaper paywalls will fail economically and are bad for the public sphere.