Week 3: Defining Business and Professional Communication

Happy Sunday, everyone. I’ve down in New Orleans this week for a meeting with the National Writing Project, and I’ve been having a great time eating beignets and taking a look at your metro maps. It seems many of you have had some significant business and professional writing experiences already. Some of your metro map designs, however, weren’t clear about the kinds of Business and Professional Communication (BPC) “stops” you anticipate in your future careers, so I’ve set up a collaborative Google Doc so that we can capture those anticipations.beignets and coffee

This week, we’re working to define this sphere of practice called Business and Professional Communication (BPC) by exploring the roles, responsibilities, ethical commitments, and communication practices of business and professional writers. As such, you will do some research on your own into the field and watch the video Major Malfunction as a way of approaching a working definition.

Learning Unit 1: Exploring Business and Professional Communication (BPC) as a Course and a Set of Practices, Tools, Place, Bodies, and Commitments

For this week (Jan. 22- Jan. 28), complete the following activities:

  1. Read through the following questions to guide your viewing, then watch the video Major Malfunction.
    1. What do you notice about the flight control communication practices? What kinds of discourse is used? What kinds of body language do you notice? What do yo notice about how citizens on the ground respond?
    2. How would describe NASA’s professional ethos (see page 6 in your textbook) before and after the Challenger explosion?
    3.  What kinds of specialized industry and technical knowledge does this video provide for you, the viewer? How is it communicated?
    4. What values were underwriting the Apollo missions? How did those values cause ethical dilemmas? What kinds of failures materialized in relation to these values?
    5. What is acceptable risk? Who gets to decide? What kinds of knowledge-making guide these decisions? Which kinds of knowledge-making practices are ignored? How is risk communicated? Whose role is it to communicate risk?
    6. Why does Mulloy say the accident was inevitable? Do you agree or disagree?
    7. Why is organizational change so hard to enact?  How does the Columbia tragedy underscore this notion? Whose role is it to advocate for users’ health, safety, sustainability, and general well-being?
  2. By Wednesday, January 25 choose two (2) of the questions above to address in a substantial (250+ words) post on Google+. Use the hashtag #Challenger for your post. Between Wednesday and Saturday, give a substantial response (100+ words) to three classmates’ #Challenger posts to discuss their interpretations and claims.
  3. Over the week, research this sphere/domain/community of practice called Business and Professional Communication. You should look at academic business and professional writing/communication programs, majors, and degrees; business and professional writing professional organizations; and academic journals and trade publications in the field. When you find a good source, share it on G+ with others using the #BPC.
  4. By Saturday, January 28 at midnight, sign up or use an existing Google Account. Create a new Google Document. Title it “Defining Business and Professional Communication.” Change the permissions on the document to “anyone with link can comment.” Share the link on the G+ community and use the hashtag #definition in your post. In the Google Document, you should write a 500-750 word essay that addresses the following using (and citing) your research:
    1. What is Business & Professional Communication?
    2. What does it include? What does it not include?
    3. What genres do Business & Professional Communicators work in/with?
    4. What practices do Business & Professional Communicators engage?
    5. What commitments, values, and ethical stances should Business and Professional Communicators aspire to uphold?
    6. What professional organizations exist to support BPC’s and what kinds of support do they offer?
  5. Add your future BPW stops/genres to the Collaborative Google Document.

Week Three Learning Goals

  • Explore and define BPC as a sphere or domain of practice
  • Discuss the significance of BPC practices
  • Consider the challenges and conflicts of BPC’s working in organizational settings
  • Consider the roles, responsibilities, ethical commitments of BPC
  • Participate actively in a connected professional writing/learning community by responding to others’ content


I’ve set up the grade book function in Blackboard, so you should be able to see the points you have earned thus far for your activities. Please let me know if this isn’t the case.

Please know that the research and writing you all are doing this week will become the basis of our synchronous, live discussions next week on both Twitter and Google Hangouts. Based on your availabilities, I’ve chosen the following dates/times for these events:

  • Wednesday, February 1 at 7:00pm for the Twitter Chat @ #engl3880
  • Saturday, February 4 at 12:00pm for the Google Hangout

I will be serving as the host facilitator for these two events. Please plan to participate if you can as four (4) are required over the semester (additional for extra credit), and in future events, you (in groups) will take over facilitation.  Look out for tutorials to get you started with Twitter and Hangouts in next Sunday’s newsletter.


Instructor West-Puckett



I am an assistant professor of Writing and Rhetoric and director of First Year Writing at the University of Rhode Island. I received my PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication from East Carolina University. My dissertation research analyzes the knowledge-making practices of composers in both online and off-line maker spaces, and my digital writing research has appeared in journals like College English and Education Science and in the books The Next Digital Scholar: A Fresh Approach to the Common Core State Standards in Research and Writing and Assessing Students Digital Writing: Protocols for Looking Closely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s