Unit III Overview: Advocacy Campaign

In this unit you will write several pieces designed to advocate for a position on the issue that you have been working with in Unit II. Each piece will reflect a different target for and level of advocacy for the position that you have aligned with. There are several components for this portfolio:

1.       Mission Statement: This is a one page document designed to announce the issue that you are advocating for, define the position that you are supporting for that issue, and express the values and beliefs that lead you to take that position. (10%)

2.       Audience analysis: This is a one page document in which you will target a very specific audience for your Convincing argument. You will explore demographic details of the audience as well as the deeper values and beliefs that cause them to take a different perspective than you on the issue. (10%)

3.       Targeted Convincing Argument: This is an eight page essay in which you will make and defend a case for your position on the issue that you are advocating for. You will target an audience for a particular publication, or hypothesize a specific audience based on your analysis of the values and beliefs that would lead them to occupy a different position than you on the issue. (60%)

4.       Supporting Persuasive Essay: This is a shorter essay designed to encourage your audience to take an action or support a policy position on your issue. The essay can take many forms, but will employ ethos, pathos, and logos to move your audience to action.  Choices here include but are not limited to: a two page Opinion/Editorial, a visual argument with a one page rationale, a tri-fold brochure, a pamphlet, an audio essay with script, a video essay with script, a poster, and a political cartoon with a one page rationale. Feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts about additional modes that might make sense for this component of the portfolio.  (20%)

Note: It is worth a bit of time to discuss the concept of advocacy work in general. Students sometimes conceptualize advocates as radicals. By talking through some examples such as anti-smoking campaigns, political action groups, community advocates, and organizations advocating for things like a study abroad year, it is possible to create a sense of the wide range of possibilities represented by the idea of “advocacy.” In a tech class students can come up with forty examples of advocacy campaigns within about five minutes online!

Mission Statement

There is no set format for the Mission Statement. Your goals for this writing are to communicate to your reader who you are, the position that you are advocating for, and why. Answering some of the following questions in a manner suitable for your rhetorical situation would be a useful approach to this writing task:

1.       What is the issue that you are advocating for?
2.       What position are you taking on this issue?
3.       Why?
4.       Who are the stakeholders for this issue?
5.       What are the values and beliefs that lead you to take this position?
6.       What knowledge or experience with this issue leads you to take this position?
7.       Why should the audience trust your opinion about this issue?
8.       What other social/cultural issues are related to or depend on the outcome of this debate?

Requirements: 1-2 pages typed, double-spaced.

Note: We do an activity to prepare for the Mission Statement that consists of comparing the strategies of three animal rights organizations: PETA, the SPCA, and the Humane Society. After critically reading these three mission statements students gain a strong sense of the range of possible strategies for representing your group or organization. I find that students emerge from this activity with a clear sense of how a mission statement reflects the values of the organizations that they represent.

Audience Analysis

In order to write an effective argument to convince, it is necessary to articulate a specific audience as the target for your argument.

To begin this process you will need to write a “working” draft of the thesis of your argument. (We will refine these as we go, just try to get your main claim down for now.)

Next answer the following questions

1. Who needs to hear this argument? (Who would you like to convince to come around to your position?)

2. What are their values? (Try to be as specific as possible here.)

3. What common ground might you share with them?

4. How might you have to qualify your position to influence their opinions?

Write a profile of your audience which includes some of the following information: age, gender, economic status, race, political orientation, and so forth. Explain how this information will impact the strategy that you employ in constructing your argument. Avoid merely listing here–try to target useful aspects of the demographic.

5. Why do you think your audience takes the position that they do on your issue?

6. What types of reasons and evidence are likely to be effective with this audience?

An alternative method for articulating your audience here is to locate a magazine that you feel would be an appropriate target publication for your issue. Answer the questions above with the specific audience for that magazine in mind.

Note: Students bring in a draft of the Audience Analysis early on in the unit. We then continue to refine and focus these up until the end. At each stage of the drafting process the students discuss the audience that they are targeting: thesis/reasons/evidence. While the actual document is worth only 10% of the unit grade, I stress that it is impossible to do well without a carefully focused audience analysis.

Targeted Convincing Argument

The goal of this assignment is to write an argument designed to convince a specific target audience to accept your position on your issue. For this argument you should follow the guidelines for mature reasoning: defend not your first position, but the best position you can support while providing reasons for holding that position that can earn the respect of an opposing audience. Your argument should follow the case structure outlined in class (available on the materials tab). In general you need to make a well articulated claim that takes into account your intended audience, support that claim with well ordered reasons, and support those reasons with sufficient and relevant evidence. Your argument will be sound in the sense that you will avoid using logical fallacies to construct you case. Your argument should have an introduction that provides background on the topic, and strategically outlines the stakes of the debate for the target audience, and a conclusion that clinches your case by ending it forcefully and memorably.

Requirements: Make your case in six pages, typed double-spaced.  The introduction and conclusion to the essay will add another 1-2 pages to the total length of your essay. A works cited page should be included that references any directly quoted sources in the essay. (APA or MLA Styles)

Note: This assignment follows two principles: soundness and strategic targeting of a specific audience. As students begin to draft their essays we cover a case model for argument and discuss logical fallacies.

Supporting Persuading Essay

You should conceptualize this argument assignment as a revision of your Argument to Convince. With the same topic, and keeping the same basic logical structure, condense your convincing argument into a multi-modal persuasion artifact or a two page long Op-Ed piece appropriate for a major American newspaper. (If you choose the Op-Ed option, read Chapter 13 of the textbook.) Keep in mind the basic distinction between an academic argument to convince and an argument designed to persuade: in a convincing argument you are appealing primarily to the intellect, while an argument to persuade takes into account the “whole” person. An argument to convince has the goal of bringing your audience around to your position in the debate–an argument to persuade has the goal of encouraging your audience to take action or support public policy that reflects your position in the debate. Be certain to think about appeals to character (indicate your status and values), emotion (use concrete description, moving images), and style (think carefully about word choice, sentence structure, metaphor).

If you choose to work with a multimodal artifact you have many choices available to you:  a visual argument with a one page rationale, a tri-fold brochure with a one page rationale, a pamphlet with a one page rationale, an audio essay with script, a video essay with script, a poster with a one page rationale, a political cartoon with a one page rationale, or a website.  Feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts about additional modes that might make sense for this component of the portfolio.

If you choose an option with a one page rationale—the rationale should be a statement of the argument that you are trying to make and an explanation of some of your key design choices for the piece.

If you choose to design a website—you should include your mission statement, your targeted convincing argument, a short opinion piece, and some links to other information about your issue or sites that could help your audience get involved with your issue. Visual components are welcome here, but not required.

Note:  This essay can be considered a radical revision of the Targeted Convincing Argument, but with two additional factors: students must “persuade” the audience by appealing to the whole person (ethos and pathos are back in the game!), and they are attempting to push beyond mere acceptance of a position to take an action or support a policy. This is also a nice way to end the semester as students become very engaged in the various multimodal projects that they pursue for this essay.