Week 8: Ethics, Social Justice, and Intercultural Communication

Thanks, everyone, for your patience on Thursday night with the Google Hangout. Joe, Guy, and I were able to connect and have a short chat, but for some reason, no one else could join our call. Many of us were able to instant message on Hangouts, however, and during the messaging, Ashley suggested that we try SabaMeeting, ECU’s synchronous video application, for our next unit.  I think this is a great idea, and we’ll plan to use this platform starting in Unit 3. Please spend some time next week installing the application on your computer and learning how it works. There are tutorials for both PC’s and Mac’s available in the link above.

Also, this week, I’d like you to begin reading and thinking about rhetoric as a cultural practice. This means that rhetoric and cultural are intertwined, and the study of rhetoric is about understanding how particular groups, at particular times and places, make meaning together. Of course, the production of language and writing are part of that meaning-making process, but so is the production of visual, material, and embodied rhetorics. We make meaning with images, using visual strategies such as contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. These are document design features you’ll read about on pages 13-14. We also make meaning through the production and arrangement of objects as well as with and through our own bodies.

Consider, for example, the ways we build our ethos through the ways we dress and present ourselves to others. Dr. Katie Manthey, who teaches at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC, explores the cultural rhetorics of professional dress in her project called Dress Profesh. Check out her project which seeks to challenge what she calls the “inherently racist, cis sexist, sizeist, ageist, classist, etc.”  of professional dress codes. Over the last few years, Manthey has curated a crowd-sourced collection of images that work to demonstrate a diversity of approaches to professional dress. Manthey’s project considers the intersections of material and embodied rhetoric, and she works to tease our the ways that professional rhetorics erase cultural difference through their white, male, American, middle class biases.Katie Mathey Embodied Identities Poster

Learning Unit 3: Fostering Corporate Diversity

For this week (Feb.26-Mar.4), complete the following activities:

  1. Prepare to use ECU’s SabaMeeting for a video chat in Unit 3.
  2. Read pages 7-14 in Writing in Professional Contexts.
  3. Explore Katie Manthey’s Dress Profesh research project.
  4. By Wednesday at midnight, share a photo to our G+ community that shows us how you dress professionally. Use the hashtag #dressprofesh. Along with the photo, include a 250+ word post that explains:
    1. The work you do (which could be that of being a student if you aren’t otherwise employed)
    2. What you are wearing and how and why you chose it
    3. How you define “professional”
    4. How you perform “professional”
    5. What cultural conflicts arise for you as you perform professionalism
  5. Consider also submitting your photo and to Dr. Manthey’s gallery. This would be awesome, but is, of course, optional. It would be unethical to force you to participate in a research project if you didn’t want to.
  6. Respond to three other students’ #dressprofesh posts.
  7. By Saturday at midnight, complete Quiz 2. Don’t click on the link until you are ready to take the quiz as you have only one chance to access it and thirty (30) minutes to complete the questions. It is a short eleven question quiz that includes one short answer response. You may use resources to help you, but you’ll need to know where to find them quickly as the quiz is timed.

Midterm Chats (Optional)

This week, I’ll be assessing your Case 1 final drafts, calculating participation grades for the first half of the semester, and entering these and any remaining unscored items into Blackboard. Please check these for accuracy on Saturday, and let me know if something seems off. If you’d like to schedule a midterm chat (through phone or video conferencing) to discuss course performance or any other aspects of the course, I am available from 12:30-3:00pm on Tuesday and Thursday of this week as well as the week after spring break.

Week Three Learning Goals

  • Engage rhetoric as a cultural practice
  • Consider and articulate the similarities and differences between professional and other cultural rhetorics
  • Develop your capacity to assess bias, determine right and wrong, and work toward social justice in BPC situations
  • Continue participating actively in an online learning community, taking risks by analyzing your own performances of professionalism
  • Prepare to take on leadership roles (Group 2: Julie, Victor, Meghan, Cassie, and Josh)  in the online community


This week’s #dressprofesh assignment asks that you take a risk in our online course community. Anytime we put our own performances on display and examine them honestly with other, we are being vulnerable. I think vulnerability is essential to reflective, equity-minded professional growth. Thus, I ask you to remember that we are all trying to figure out this thing called professional communication (me included!) and what we gain and what lose when we pursue it. As you engage each others’ posts this week, please be kind; notice and appreciate difference; and respond to others’ performances, ideas, and struggles with empathy and respect. Those are essential orientations toward effective intercultural communication.


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.

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