WRIT 2701: Green Rhetoric

This course examines the green rhetorical tradition in American nature writing, including the creation, idealization, evocation, degradation, and conservation of the American wilderness. Course readings will focus on American non-fiction, including memoirs, historical and government documents, as well as established and emerging green rhetoric genres, among others. Students can expect to write a nature memoir and to analyze an environmental rhetoric case study (e.g. Muir’s campaign to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, the Standing Rock Sioux and the Dakota Access Pipeline). Additionally, students will select, develop, and design a green rhetoric campaign about a local environmental issue by writing in several genres for public audiences (e.g. an op-ed, an infographic, select social media). Open to all DU students, WRIT 2701 fulfills part of the Applied Writing requirement for students pursuing the Minor in Writing Practices. 

WRIT 2701 Learning Goals: By the end of the course, students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to connect local environmental issues to the global environmental crisis.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify and employ common rhetorical strategies in nature writing. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to compose in multiple green rhetoric genres. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to write for public, non-expert audiences.
  • Demonstrate the ability to provide feedback to other’s writing and to revise their own writing based on feedback they’ve received about their writing. 


  • Writing Projects and Process 

We will follow a process approach to writing, so for each writing project, you will complete a rough draft and receive feedback in a peer review activity. After the peer review, you will revise and edit your projects before submitting them to me. For each peer review, you are expected to have a complete draft. Failure to meet the draft deadlines will lower that project’s final grade by 20%. Similarly, late papers will be penalized 10% for each day the paper is late. Late work will receive a grade, but will not receive written feedback. All workshop and final drafts must be word processed in Microsoft Word, double-spaced, and use a standard 12 point font. For each writing project, you will submit a self-evaluation that discusses the project itself, including the revisions you made, the rationale for those revisions, and the strengths and weaknesses of the writing project. The self-evaluation will account for 5% of the project’s grade.

At the end of term, final (e)portfolios will be published online in wordpress or DU portfolio. The portfolio will contain an about (you) page that in two or so paragraphs introduces you and your portfolio and explains the portfolio contents.  More details about this assignment will be provided later in the quarter.

Small groups will deliver a presentation and facilitate a discussion about a case study in US environmental rhetoric, roughly 40 minutes in length, with the bulk of that time being class discussion. Groups are expected to research their topic, offer a 10 minute historical overview and rhetorical analysis of their case study (its environmental origins, evolution, impacts, and current status), include a multimedia portion (up to 5 minutes of video clips, music, visual representations, etc.), and then lead a class discussion (20 minutes). To help ground the discussion, presentation groups will assign the class a short reading for the day of their presentation (readings should be given to classmates 48 hours before the case study presentation). Groups will be expected to meet out of class to prepare, including meeting with the instructor prior to the presentation. Groups will receive one grade; slackers sink the group ship. The grade will be based on the depth of research, the quality of presentation and the assigned reading, and the equal participation from group members. Case studies include:

  • John Muir and the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park
  • Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and DDT
  • Earth First! and the Glen Canyon Dam
  • Frank Luntz and Climate Change (vs. Global Warming)
  • Standing Rock Sioux and the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Extinction Rebellion and Climate Crisis Week

More details about this assignment will be provided later in the quarter.

  • Readings

In this course, students will read a variety of texts, including their colleagues’ prose, longer academic texts written for expert audiences, and shorter pieces written for non-experts. Re-reading is encouraged and advised. The readings can be found in Canvas/Files or Canvas/Modules.

  • Reading Quizzes

There will be five unannounced reading quizzes, which will cover the reading assignment for that class period and will test reading comprehension. Reading quizzes will occur at the beginning of class and they cannot be made up.

  • Canvas Discussion Posts

Students will complete several Canvas discussion posts, which will address the assigned readings and other materials from the course. Your posts should respond to the initial prompt and your audience will be your classmates. I will assess your posts on their relevance, thoughtfulness, and polish. Late forum posts will receive up to half credit.

  • Participation and In-Class Exercises

Your participation grade begins at 0 and builds, each class, through the quarter. It includes attendance, completion of the in-class writing exercises, and your performance in small and whole class discussion.

Policies & Procedures

  • Attendance: I expect you to attend every class. Each absence will impact your participation grade, and after 4 absences, your participation grade will be a 0 for the quarter. If you must miss class, let me know, and arrange to have a colleague submit whatever might be due that day. Similarly, showing up halfway through or leaving in the middle counts as a full absence, not half an attendance. Habitual tardiness will also lower your final grade: three tardies is the equivalent of one absence.
  • Grading: The course will use a +/- grading system, and your final grade will be calculated as follows:
  • (E)Portfolio                                                     70
  • Nature Memoir                                              60
  • Green Campaign                                            120
    • Op-ed                                                            (50)
    • Infographic                                                (40)
    • Social Media                                              (30)
  • Case Study Presentation                            40
  • Reading Quizzes (5 @ 10)                           50 
  • Discussion Posts (3 @ 10)                          30 
  • Participation                                                   30
  • Total Points                                                    400 points. 
Grading Scale
  • The class will use Canvas, an online course management system, in a number of ways, including links to the course blog, where you can find the syllabus and schedule as well as the major assignments. Canvas will also house handouts, readings, and other materials. I will also use the gradebook function.
  • WordPress Blogs: The course blog –– will house electronic copies of the syllabus, schedule, and major assignments. It will also contain daily posts for each class. Please get in the habit of checking the course blog. Additionally, students will also use to publish some of their work. WordPress is free, wysiwyg, and easy to use. We will spend time in class learning to use the basics of
  • Laptop Policy: Bring your laptop to class, as we will use them in class. However, be prepared to have them closed during class time when instructed.
  • Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices: You have plenty of time to use your cell phones and Ipods outside of class. So please turn them off and put them away when you enter the class. The first time your cell phone rings, hums, vibrates, rattles, beeps, ringtones, texts, or whatever, you’ll bring snacks (cookies or brownies, etc.) for your colleagues to the next class period. The second time your phone goes off, you’ll order pizza for everyone (both a meat and a vegetarian pie). The third time, the class will meet at a fine dining establishment – your treat.
  • Plagiarism and the Honor Code: The Writing Program follows the Council of Writing Program Administrators definition of plagiarism, which states, “In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.” For more information about this definition, go to

DU’s Honor Code also maintains that all members of the university must use the work of others in good faith. Students who have plagiarized an assignment will receive an F on that assignment, and the instructor will inform the Director of the Writing Program and the Office of Community and Citizenship Standards. As a result of these communications, further action may be taken. Any subsequent documented acts of plagiarism may be subject to more severe actions, including suspension or dismissal from the university. For more information, go to

  • University Writing Center: As a DU student, you are able to visit the University Writing Center to consult one-on-one with a trained staff member on any writing assignment, at any stage of the project. To schedule an appointment, log in to “My Web” at, select “Student and Financial Aid” tab, and click on the “Writing and Research Center” menu. You can also call (303) 871-7456.
  • Students with Disabilities: If you have a documented disability that will impact your performance in this class, please inform me during the first two weeks of the course and provide documentation from DU’s Disability Services Program. I will make every reasonable accommodation for you so that you are able to succeed in this course. For more information, go to
  • Out of Class Assistance: Please contact me via email if you have any questions or concerns. I will respond within 48 hours, and usually much sooner. If you would like to meet face to face, let me know and we can schedule an appointment.