Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR)
The PWR sequence is designed to teach us how to write research papers (different from the Intro to Humanities sequence, which focuses on analytic essays about the texts we read). In PWR 2, take sophomore year, we also learn how to give effective presentations. I enjoyed both of my PWR classes!
Freshman year, I took Rhetoric in the Global Context, which was interesting because we could talk about everything, since everything is global in some way. This attitude was a new perspective for me, since I generally live in a bubble and do not consider the global impacts of things. We had a fun project where we tracked a non-US-based news website for the quarter, and learned how to pick up on biases in reporting and the differences between what countries decide to report. I did an Italian news website, and it was interesting to compare it to the US news, epsecially when something happened that both countries reported. I decided to focus on the European Space Agency (ESA) for my research paper. I learned that countries have many motives other than an interest in space exploration for wanting to join the ESA, the main ones being either political or economic. If you are interested, you can read my paper here: To Infinity and Beyond- The Role of Politics in the Success of the European Space Agency.doc
Sophomore year, I took The Rhetoric of Art and Commerce. I was interested in this precisely because it is so far from my field of study. It turned out to be quite interesting, as we discussed how art and commerce go hand-in-hand, in everything from artists trying to make a living to corporate logos. I had the opportunity to research modern art, and how it comes to have value. Modern art is one of those things that has always puzzled me because I just could not figure it out. It was enlightening to research and write this paper as I discovered that no matter what experts say, the true value in art lies in what it means to you, the viewer. This paper was also fun to write because I experimented with a different style of narrative - you can read it here: My Kid Could Paint That - The Rhetoric of What Makes Art Valuable.doc
The most valuable skills I learned were in the realm of giving presentations. I learned how to give an elevator pitch (most fun day of class, because we literally rode elevators up and down while practicing delivering them!). I learned techniques for more effective PowerPoint presentations and my own oral delivery. I have had a lot of practice giving presentations, but this class made me realize that while I of course have room for improvement, it is actually one of my strengths.