Recent research in public communication discusses the importance of an argumentative turn in policy analysis. This turn is justified because, in public communication, most activities and interactions (oral and written) are characterized by argumentation, as actors are committed to be accountable for their decisions and give reasons for their claims. Argumentation in Public Communication I (3 ECTS) focuses on argumentation as a means to resolve disagreement through reasonable dialogue. It assumes that a well-conducted argumentative dialogue ideally increases the quality of public communication. This course provides students with a method to analyse and design arguments, based on a discussion of a series of case studies within different contexts of public communication, ranging from public press releases, to policy documents, to the debate around popular initiatives, to NGO campaigns and political debates and their echoes on the media. Students will be able to reconstruct which argument schemes are used in in different contexts and documents of public communication (distinguishing, for example, argument schemes such as means-end argumentation, analogy and appeals to authority), analyse their implicit premises and evaluate their validity. The course adopts a bottom-up approach, based on the analysis of empirical data (documents, oral discourses) in the field of public communication and administrative rhetoric. Classroom interaction will allow significant space for students’ discussion, group-work, and guided controversy in order to see how argumentation works in practice.
Evaluation is as follows: 15% based on an exercise of design of argumentative texts to be submitted during the course; 10% based on active participation to the class discussion; and 75% based on a final oral exam including the contents of the course and some reading materials (available through the iCorsi platform). A syllabus with more details will be provided at the beginning of the course.
For those who wish to know more about argumentation and the tools for analysing arguments in different domains of public communication, the additional course Argumentation in Public Communication II will be offered in SA 2018.
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