Daniel Harris

 

 

In 1990, at Tufts University, a group of intellectuals joined together in hopes of influencing future generations. At this meeting, the scholars drafted The Talloires Declaration, a document pertaining to the degradation of the environment. It set a goal to change the mindset of the younger generation by committing different universities to both practice and teach the notion of sustainability. Recently, Cal Poly joined 300 other schools in signing the 10-point plan, prompting President Baker to make a speech on the issue. Lending support to the Talloires Declaration impacts life here in San Luis Obispo through the many influences it will have on the curriculum. Our decision also sends a message to the world that this declaration is supported, and as the founders hoped, this will create more of an interest in other places. President Baker, in his speech, talks about the Talloires Declaration and Cal Polyís own Master Plan, arguing that we have already upheld the values of the declaration. In this essay, I will evaluate his speech using the notions of Logos, Pathos and Ethos.

            Logos pertains to the logical aspect of the argument. It deals with persuasion through the presentation of facts and evidence. President Baker argues that Cal Poly already meets many of the guidelines of the Talloires Declaration. He supports this central claim by explaining Cal Polyís Master Plan and other projects focused on sustainability. He first talks about the Master Plan focusing [SM1] on the different components[SM2] . The plan strives toward a better understanding of the responsibility of sustainability through land-use planning. It promotes this through the actions of the school and curriculum taught to the students. President baker[SM3]  fluently describes the aspects of the plan and then leads into other instances that [SM4] the school exemplifies the declaration.        He talks about The Cal Poly Campus Sustainability Initiative, describing it as ďan important clearinghouse for both continuing and new sustainability activities.Ē The Talliore [SM5] declaration calls for new opportunities in the curriculum to better teach the ideas of sustainability; Baker covers this area by describing the many degree programs offered at Cal Poly pertaining to the environment such as Natural Resources Management, Environmental Engineering and Environmental Design[SM6] .

 

Baker uses clear concise evidence to explain the Master Plan and other examples that fit the goals of the declaration, however there are a few weaknesses in his support of the central claim. Early in the speech he mentions how our school has already covered many aspects of the ten-points in the Talloires declaration, yet makes no mention what is actually said in the points. Audiences that arenít familiar with the declaration may be confused by this approach. Another weakness is his failure to mention the issues that The Master Plan does not cover. He states that our plan contains a majority of the points, but not all. This means that further effort must be made in order to completely fulfill the idea of the declaration. He never mentions any additional changes Cal Poly might need to[SM7]  make in order to fully comply with the declaration.[SM8] 

            Aristotle used Pathos to signify emotional appeal. Evoking a reaction in an audience or reader, Pathos enhances the argument. Few people are moved to change their attitude or take action when they are complacent and bored. When logical arguments fail, passion is the leading force in getting the central claim across. President Baker uses emotional appeal in subtle ways. He uses a sense of urgency when talking about valuable resources that need to be preserved, describing their degradation as accelerating and disconcerting[SM9] .  He evokes empathy by describing our core values at Cal Poly as the management of scarce resources and preservation of the environment[SM10] . Emotion is not the main focus of his speech because he is introducing the keynote speaker.  Baker sticks mainly to the logical approach to persuasion, giving information to prepare the audience for a possible call to action later in the convocation.  Although effective for an introductory speech, had he wanted to make more of an impact on listeners he could have included more fiery rhetoric concerning some environmental problems in area such as erosion and toxic runoff.  When the problems are related towards the audience it[SM12][SM11]   is going to get more of a reaction than general global issues.

            Ethos is the credibility of a speaker or author. According to Stephen Lucas, author of The Art of Public Speaking, a speakerís credibility consists of three components, initial, derived and terminal credibility. Initial credibility is how credible the speaker is before the speech is actually given. President Baker has a lot of credibility before he even speaks. Being president makes him the foremost authority on any topics concerning Cal Poly University. Any random person is going to respect what he has to say about Cal Poly because of his title. Derived credibility is described as the credibility established during a speech through use of evidence, organization, vivid language and fluent delivery. Bakerís organization is clear from the beginning, describing the Talloires Declaration and continuing on to explain how Cal Poly has already modeled itself under the same principles. He uses many examples to support the central idea without using any deceptive argumentation techniques. He points out that Cal Poly is not the only university to accept this declaration, showing that he is supported in his decision. He also gives a way for listeners to look up information about his cause through the Facilities Planning Committee website.  Finally, Terminal credibility is the credibility of the speaker after the speech is given. It is essentially the initial credibility plus or minus the derived credibility, which is dependant on whether it is a good or bad speech. This type is not as important considering President Bakerís high initial credibility and the audience bias. He did a good job though, using his credibility to influence through facts rather than misrepresentation[SM13] .

            When analyzing the overall impact of this speech I looked at a few factors. The audience plays a key role whenever persuasion is involved. Baker was giving his speech to a group whose opinions concerning the existence of an environment problem were most likely biased in his favor. Judging by his audience, I feel he made the right decision to emphasize the factual part of his argument rather than emotion. Since this was an introductory speech, any emotional appeal he could have added would distract from the topic of the keynote speaker. He presented enough information however to successfully argue that Cal Poly already takes many steps that fit under the Talloires Declaration. The way that this will influence me in the future is to be more aware. Saying something is much different than actually putting it into action, so I am interested to see the ways these principles are implemented. I will be particularly interested in how the school handles the student housing north project. According to www.sustainabledesignguide.umn.edu, many strategies are available to make this project a more sustainable structure. Locating trees in certain spots of the building will help to reduce future heating and cooling costs and reduce erosion. Using materials made locally will cut down on pollution and cost of transportation. One bad thing that they are doing is excavating new land; it is more sustainable to build on empty lots or unused developed areas rather than new country land. As for me, I will attempt some sustainable practices that are more on an individual basis. Using compact florescent light bulbs rather than halogen will save more than half of the energy needed to light a home. One can also reduce waste by reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible. If we all take a cue from the Talloires Declaration, Cal Poly, and President Baker perhaps we can help to contribute to the betterment of society. When the men and women who convened at Tuffs[SM14]  University have realized their goal of action through education, we will truly be making progress in the fight for sustainability. Until then, intellectuals like President Baker and supporters of Cal Polyís Master Plan will have to continue to set examples for others[SM15] .  

 

 

 


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 [SM1]Comma needed; echo

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 [SM2]not needed

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 [SM3]

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 [SM4]in which

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 [SM5]

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 [SM6]good addition showing evidence supporting claim

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 [SM7]delete

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 [SM8]repeats; delete

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 [SM9]good sentence

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 [SM10]good

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 [SM11]pronoun reference to antecedent; what does ďitĒ refer to?

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 [SM12]reference.  Ė I donít understand, I didnít get this from any source

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 [SM13]good

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 [SM14]Tufts

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 [SM15]Danielóthis is greatly improved.  Most problems of expression have been resolved and the additional research you did lends credibility to your overall presentation and adds external but relevant content to your critical evaluation.  The combination of real interest in the subject matter and in rhetorical analysis makes this writing worth reading.   A-