Essay #4

Evaluating a Persuasive Argument.

This assignment shifts from writing about external surroundings to writing about texts, both spoken and written.

Knowledge of a place leads to love of the place. Love of the place leads to stewardship of it. Stewardship leads to involvement in making decisions about it. Decisions are affected by what people say and write to persuade others. To arrive at good decisions one must evaluate efforts at persuasion, and in order to persuade others, one must be able to communicate effectively.

The art of effective communication is rhetoric. It was systematically developed by the ancient Greeks to qualify all citizens in a democracy to participate in decisions about governance of the state. "Rhetoric" has developed several meanings over time, from a pejorative one signifying manipulative and untrue discourse--"mere rhetoric"--to a blanket category for skill with language. In this last sense all composition classes are about rhetoric. More narrowly, "rhetoric" refers to the analysis and creation of persuasive language--language that influences thought and action.

Essay #4 involves analysing and evaluating the persuasive appeal of a speech or an article related to governance of this place, or part of this place, Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo. Using the Toulmin Model and other tools, we will scrutinize some recent presentations by local leaders and eminent guests at Cal Poly on the topic of Stewardship and Sustainability, or concern for the environment.

These include

The Talloires Declaration, a pledge by 350 university presidents to promote sustainability in institutional behavior and curriculum

President Baker's talk on the occasion of his signing this pledge in April 2004

In Moebius:

Essay by David Orr (17-23)

Essay by Deanna Richards (63-69)

Essay by Dean Tom Jones (49-57)

Essay by Claire Johnson (33-41)

Ballot Arguments on the San Luis Obispo Marketplace Referendum

Essay #4 consists of