Rhetoric and Civic Life II Syllabus

General Course Information

Instructor: Earl Brooks  Email: [email protected]

Class Number: 396232  Section: 28 

Tuesday 4:15 PM – 5:30 PM  219 Willard Bldg

Thursday 4:15 – 5:30 PM 216 Osmond Lab

RCL Facebook Group

Office Location: Verizon Building ( 224 S. Allen St). To find the building, walk down Allen Street away from campus. You will pass Panera Bread and cross Beaver St. Keep walking until you pass a bank. The Verizon Building entrance door will be on your right just before the Cozy Thai Restaurant. I can be found in room 107.
Office Hours: Monday 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Wednesday 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, and by appointment if you email me at least 24 hours ahead of time.



Rhetoric and Civic Life (2015). Second Custom Edition for Penn State. Crowley and Hawhee. Custom textbook. IBSN: 9781269958486

We will also do readings from online sources.


Policies & Assignments for RCL II

Major Assignments

RCL II has four major units: Articulating Beliefs, Deliberating, Persuading & Advocating, and Presenting Yourself. All major assignments within each unit must be completed in order to pass this class. Specific details on the assignments will be available on this course website and discussed in class. Please note that, though RCL II sections are rather standardized, your instructor has the discretion to offer some adjustments to the course schedule and assignments as he or she sees fit.


Early in the semester, students will start up two distinct blog categories–the Passion Blog and Civic Issues blog–using WordPress through Penn State. I will also require a third blog category reserved for posting drafts of work and responding to course readings. These blogs will be devoted to RCL and will be distinct from any other blogs you keep on this site or elsewhere. Blogs from this particular section of RCL will be aggregated so that you, your classmates, and your instructor may easily find and read one another’s posts. Blogs will be due each Thursday prior to class. All late posts will penalized. Students will be placed in blog groups, and members of these blog groups will be responsible for engaging one another’s entries with comments. Students will be able to revise and select entries for inclusion in final e-portfolios in RCL II. For more specific information on blogging in RCL II, consult “Blogging Assignment” under the “Assignments” tab on this course website.


Participation in this class is strongly encouraged, which is why it counts for 5% of the final grade (see below). Participation has several dimensions, not the least of which is presence in class. This doesn’t simply mean bodily presence (this is covered in the attendance policy below), but actual attunement top the class discussion. Engaged, vocal contributions (questions, discussion points, etc.) and online posting and commenting are considered central to the success of the class. Also valuable is recognizing when it’s time for other students to contribute. There will be opportunities to contribute in small-group discussion. All in-class activities represent opportunities to work out ideas.


Attendance is required. More than three absences—excused or unexcused—may result in a lower final grade for the course (down to and including an “F’). Three late arrivals equal one absence. Students will bring the reading material to class on the day it is assigned or risk being counted absent for that day. Students who come to class without having completed the assigned reading or writing may be counted absent as well.


Grading breakdown

Unit Five: This I Believe Podcast 10%

Unit Six: Deliberation  20%

  • Presentation 10%

  • Moderating and Recording 5%

  • Post-deliberation report 5%

Unit Seven: Persuasion and Advocacy 30%

  • Persuasive Essay 15%

  • Advocacy Project 15%

Unit Eight: E-Portfolio  15%

Blogs 20%

Participation and Attendance 5%

Grading Scale

Please note that this is the standard grading scale offered by the College of Liberal Arts. Given the exact range of grades, students should not expect “rounding up.”

A = 95 to 100, A- = 90 to 94.99, B+ = 87 to 89.99, B = 83 to 86.99, B- = 80 to 83, C+ = 75 to 79.99, C = 70 to 74.99, D = 60 to 69.99, F = 59.99 and below.  Note: The Penn State grading scale does not allow the option of awarding grades of C-, D+ or D- grades.

Academic Integrity/Plagiarism

Penn State defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. All students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts (Faculty Senate Policy 49-20). Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course. Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions and will be reported to the University’s Judicial Affairs office for possible further disciplinary sanction.

We will discuss proper citation practices in class, and I welcome questions on this issue at any time before assignments are due. I’d like to stress too that plagiarism is not to be confused with the sharing of ideas—all writers get advice from friends and colleagues. For the purposes of this course, the element that distinguishes such productive collaborative moments from plagiarism is that of willful deception—i.e., cheating.

Disability Support Services & Special Circumstances         

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities and is committed to the policy that all people shall have equal access to programs, facilities, and admissions without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities.  If you have a registered disability or any other special circumstance, please let me know about it within the first week of class. We can then devise a plan for how to approach the semester.

Statement on Non-Discrimination 

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status. Discrimination or harassment against faculty, staff, or students will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University.

Note: The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible.

Mobile Devices and Computer Access

Please silence and put away your mobile devices before entering class. Also, while Thursdays are “lab days,” please avoid the temptation to spend instructional time perusing course sites unrelated to instruction and learning for the course. Keep in mind how much money you and/or your parents are paying for this particular course and what your degree is meant to represent.

Course Resources and Connections

RCL Hubsite

The RCL course has a hub site that will keep you up to date about RCL right now (across sections). A good deal of the material assigned across sections will be available at that site. The RCL hub site address is here: http://rcl.la.psu.edu/. Your instructor is likely to keep a section-specific site as well.

This is RCL

You can find examples of student work from former RCL students at This is RCL.


This is the course tag for this year. Please feel free to use it to tweet any materials, blog entries, or RCL-related thoughts. The tag feeds into the course hub site (mentioned above), so please tag with that in mind.

RCL Facebook page

This page is for instructors, students, and fans of RCL. Like it on Facebook.


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