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Moving from Debate to Dialogue with a Justice Talking Radio Broadcast

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DISCIPLINARY CONCERNS: Teaching Core Knowledge in Composition and Rhetoric

In addition to teaching students about the the social dimensions of research and the dramatic nature of argument, the Justice Talking format can be used to introduce students to core disciplinary concepts in the field of composition and rhetoric, concepts that will assist them not only in civil discourse but also when they invent arguments and write papers for other occasions across the curriculum. By learning core concepts in rhetoric, as bulleted below, students can become more deliberate about identifying an issue, positioning themselves in time and place, building crediblity, empathizing with others, and providing logical reasons for their claims.  

  1. Identifying an issue. For starters, the performative aspect of the broadcast and the need to shape many disparate pieces into a coherent whole teaches students how to identify the central issue under dispute (see stasis theory);
  2. Positioning oneself in time in place. Continuing on a holistic level, the local and current nature of the broadcast framed within an historical background, teaches students about the significance of time and place in calling for a rhetorical response (see kairos);
  3. Building credibility. In an academic context where students are encouraged to be objective and to avoid first person pronouns, Justice Talking’s relative openness to narrative and experiential knowledge combined with an emphasis on expert research and testimony teach students about the importance of a speaker’s character in building trust and credibility (see ethos);
  4. Empathizing with others. In a setting where students often consider their professor the sole audience, this dramatic format invites students to become and to listen to real voices and to recognize the values and emotions these voices communicate (see pathos),
  5. Providing logical arguments. Finally, the debate segment gives students rigorous practice in developing a limited set of claims and supporting them with reasons and evidence and rebutting the arguments, reasons, and evidence of others (see logos).