Graduate Studies Reports Access

Graduate Course Proposal Form Submission Detail - IDS6238
Tracking Number - 4732

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Current Status: Approved by SCNS - 2013-08-05
Campus: Tampa
Submission Type: New
Course Change Information (for course changes only): n/a
Comments: to GC 5/6/13 for Global Sust. Changes. Approved. Cleared concurrence. To SCNS 7/31/13. Subm as 6234. Apprd as 6238 eff 8/1/13

Detail Information

  1. Date & Time Submitted: 2013-04-15
  2. Department:
  3. College: CS
  4. Budget Account Number: 390500
  5. Contact Person: Carl G. Herndl
  6. Phone: 9749557
  7. Email:
  8. Prefix: IDS
  9. Number: 6238
  10. Full Title: Communicating the Value of Sustainability
  11. Credit Hours: 3
  12. Section Type: C - Class Lecture (Primarily)
  13. Is the course title variable?: N
  14. Is a permit required for registration?: N
  15. Are the credit hours variable?: N
  16. Is this course repeatable?: N
  17. If repeatable, how many times?: 0
  18. Abbreviated Title (30 characters maximum): Communicating Sustainability
  19. Course Online?: B - Face-to-face and online (separate sections)
  20. Percentage Online: 0
  21. Grading Option: -
  22. Prerequisites:
  23. Corequisites:
  24. Course Description: Provides 1) an understanding of the challenges of communicating about sustainability; 2) a theoretical framework for analyzing these challenges; and 3) practice at applying that knowledge to their writing.

  25. Please briefly explain why it is necessary and/or desirable to add this course: Needed to compete with national trends
  26. What is the need or demand for this course? (Indicate if this course is part of a required sequence in the major.) What other programs would this course service? This new course is part of a systematic redesign of the degree requirements for the MA in Global Sustainability now housed in the new College of Global Sustainability. The revisions to the degree emerge from our analysis of other competitive programs across the country, our assessment of the core competencies of the College and our analysis of skills desired by employers for positions related to sustainability and green economy. The proposed revisions are academically rigorous and position our degree and our students for success in the academic and workplace market. After synthesizing this research, we have designed four new core courses for the MA degree. The four core courses are; Concepts and Principles of Sustainability, Economics and Finance for Sustainability, Systems Thinking: The key to sustainability, and Communicating the Value of Sustainability. In addition, we have strengthened our Water Concentration with a new required course titled Sustainable Water Resource Management.

    The demand for this course will be the same as the demand for the degree since this course is required for all students enrolled in the degree program. We are currently receiving 60-80 applications per year without any systematic recruiting effort. Our current enrollment is around 35 students per academic year.

    With the increasing focus on sustainability in higher education, we believe that these courses may serve as electives to other programs, especially those housed in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Public Health and Business.

  27. Has this course been offered as Selected Topics/Experimental Topics course? If yes, how many times? No
  28. What qualifications for training and/or experience are necessary to teach this course? (List minimum qualifications for the instructor.) None
  29. Objectives: Students will:

    1. Understand the communication challenges specific to sustainability.

    2. Apply theory to identify communication problems and analyze the communication context

    3. Design a strategic response to these challenges and contexts by:

    •selecting appropriate tools to respond to those challenges.

    •creating statistically sound and rhetorically effective graphs, tables, and charts.

    •creating advanced data visualizations (e.g. infographics, dynamic visualizations).

    •reframing controversies

    •producing documents that enact rhetorically effective strategies.

    •constructing effective arguments designed for specific audiences/publics.

    •communicating complex concepts to non-experts

  30. Learning Outcomes: After completing this course, the students should be able to:

    1. Explain the science, economics, ethics and social dimensions of sustainability in accessible ways.

    2. Write clearly and effectively about models, scenarios, globalization and the practices of everyday life as they relate to sustainability.

    3. Construct arguments about sustainability and locate them in their contexts or “rhetorical ecologies.”

    4. Use a range of tools and strategies (e.g. social media, framing, data visualizations, etc.) to communicate about sustainability.

  31. Major Topics: I. Understanding the communication challenges specific to sustainability.

    a. Guest speakers from other core courses to highlight communication challenges

    b. Rationalist paradox; logic and data rarely create change

    c. Ethics and the ethical paradox--intergenerational ethics specific to sustainability

    d. making invisible visible

    e. shaping policy and decision-making (policy is not just about science. It’s also about social values, cultural habits, vested economic interests. You get to stakeholders to build a policy agenda and consensus.

    f. Accessibility of online texts (

    II. Problem analysis and rhetorical theory

    a. Rhetorical situation

    b. rhetorical ecology

    c. rhetorical appeals (i.e. ethos, logos, pathos)

    d. Genre theory

    e. Audience analysis

    f. Arguments & argumentation--stasis theory, rogerian, Toulmin

    g. Constructions of “the public”; emergent public

    h. Workplace writing based on interview survey of professionals

    i. stakeholder theory and participatory assessment

    III. Developing Skills/tools for responding to communication challenges

    a. accommodation: explaining complex concepts (uncertainty, systems analysis, models,

    scenarios) to lay public

    b. Framing

    c. Data visualization tools and methods to shape the public’s understanding of sustainability and their perception of policy debates

    d. Using social media to enhance the public’s scientific literacy, invite dialogue between scientists and/or the public, and create sustainable access to and preservation of data, build emergent publics/coalitions

    e. Gamification and procedural rhetorics.

  32. Textbooks: Carl Herndl, Green Culture: Environmental Rhetoric In Contemporary America (1997)

    ---. Green: A Reader for Writers (2013)

    Stephen Few, Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten (2012)

    Craig Waddell’s Landmark Essays on Rhetoric and the Environment

    Michelle Simmons’ Participation and Power: Civic Discourse in Environmental Policy Decisions (2007)

    Peter Goggin (Ed.) Rhetorics, Literacies, and Narratives of Sustainability (2009)

    Jimmie Killingsworth & Jacqueline S. Palmer’s Ecospeak: Rhetoric and Environmental Politics in America (1992)

  33. Course Readings, Online Resources, and Other Purchases: Microsoft Excel (USF has site license) will be used in this course.
  34. Student Expectations/Requirements and Grading Policy: Grades will be based on student’s performance on four written assignments:

    1.Writing a policy white paper that draws on work in other PCGS courses and makes use of all the rhetorical skills and strategies introduced in the course.

    2. Writing and designing documents that use multiple media to motivate change in the face of the rationalist and ethical paradoxes.

    3. Designing a strategy to use digital media to elicit public participation and build an emergent coalition.

    4. Producing informational materials for multiple stakeholder groups associated with a single case study.

    The following grading scale will be used

    90 to 100% = A

    80 to 89% = B

    70 to 79% = C

    60 to 69% = D

    Below 50% = F

    Grades will be posted on through the course management software. There is no other extra credit available.

  35. Assignments, Exams and Tests: Course Outline

    Week 1

    Introduction to understanding the communication challenges specific to sustainability

    Rationalist paradox; logic and data rarely create change

    Week 2

    Ethics and the ethical paradox--intergenerational ethics specific to sustainability

    Making the invisible visible

    Week 3

    Guest speakers from other core courses to highlight communication challenges

    Shaping policy and decision-making

    Week 4

    Accessibility of online texts (

    Due: rationalist and ethical paradoxes materials

    Week 5

    Introduction to problem analysis and rhetorical theory

    Rhetorical situation

    Rhetorical ecology

    Week 6

    Rhetorical appeals (i.e. ethos, logos, pathos)

    Genre theory

    Week 7

    Audience analysis

    Arguments and argumentation—stasis theory, Rogerian, Toulmin

    Week 8

    Constructions of “the public”; emergent public

    Due: policy white paper

    Week 9

    Workplace writing based on interview survey of professionals

    Stakeholder theory and participatory assessment

    Week 10

    Begin developing skills/tools for responding to communication challenges

    Accommodation: explaining complex concepts (uncertainty, systems analysis, models, scenarios) to lay public

    Framing (Benford; Lakoff)

    Week 11

    Using social media to enhance the public’s scientific literacy, invite dialogue between scientists and/or the public, and create sustainable access to and preservation of data, build emergent publics/coalitions

    Week 12

    Data visualization tools and methods to shape the public’s understanding of sustainability and their perception of policy debates

    Due: competing stakeholder materials

    Week 13

    Gamification and procedural rhetorics

    Week 14

    Presentations in class

    Due: social media strategy

    The four writing assignments will be based on class readings and the skills required will reflect the topics of class discussions and instruction. Students will produce drafts of each assignment on which they will receive feedback. They will revise before submitting assignments for a grade.

  36. Attendance Policy: Course Attendance at First Class Meeting – Policy for Graduate Students: For structured courses, 6000 and above, the College/Campus Dean will set the first-day class attendance requirement. Check with the College for specific information. This policy is not applicable to courses in the following categories: Educational Outreach, Open University (TV), FEEDS Program, Community Experiential Learning (CEL), Cooperative Education Training, and courses that do not have regularly scheduled meeting days/times (such as, directed reading/research or study, individual research, thesis, dissertation, internship, practica, etc.). Students are responsible for dropping undesired courses in these categories by the 5th day of classes to avoid fee liability and academic penalty. (See USF Regulation – Registration - 4.0101,

    Attendance Policy for the Observance of Religious Days by Students: In accordance with Sections 1006.53 and 1001.74(10)(g) Florida Statutes and Board of Governors Regulation 6C-6.0115, the University of South Florida (University/USF) has established the following policy regarding religious observances: (

    In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary for USF to suspend normal operations. During this time, USF may opt to continue delivery of instruction through methods that include but are not limited to: Blackboard, Elluminate, Skype, and email messaging and/or an alternate schedule. It’s the responsibility of the student to monitor Blackboard site for each class for course specific communication, and the main USF, College, and department websites, emails, and MoBull messages for important general information.

  37. Policy on Make-up Work: Students are expected to notify their instructors at the beginning of each academic term if they intend to be absent from a class or announced examination for the approved reason as noted above in accordance with this policy. In the event that a student is absent for one of these noted reasons on a day when the instructor collects work for purposes of grading (homework, quiz, etc.), the student shall be given a reasonable opportunity to make up such work or shall not have that work averaged into the student's grade, at the discretion of the instructor.

    If excused for an absence, the student is responsible for completing all academic work, examinations, assignments, and labs within a period of time and in a manner deemed appropriate by the instructor. The manner for accommodating excused absences appropriately is in the hands of the instructor, but a student who is absent for an excused reason should not be at a disadvantage when compared to other students. The approved reasons for excused absences apply even if a student in a course has the option of dropping an assignment grade (e.g., dropping the lowest quiz score). Excused absences for other reasons may be allowed or declined entirely at the discretion of the instructor.

    Even if individual absences are excused, excessive absences may threaten a student's satisfactory completion of a course. Absences may count from the first class meeting, including for students who hope to add the class after the first day.

    See also the University Policy on Academic Integrity at

  38. Program This Course Supports: MA in Global Sustainability
  39. Course Concurrence Information:

- if you have questions about any of these fields, please contact or