Learning Goals

Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge

Upon graduation from Whitman College, with a degree in Rhetoric Studies, a student will be able to:

  1. Engage in effective communication in their presentations, discussion, and writing by using clear, persuasive, and interesting rhetoric.
  2. Analyze arguments, values, and differing symbols presented in speeches, legal documents, social activist advocacy, etc. Such analysis will demonstrate insight, reflection, and thought on rhetoric in society.
  3. Conceptualize rhetoric and discursive processes in clear, accurate, and productive ways, informed with a wide variety of rhetorical methods, models, and approaches toward communication.
  4. Discuss with an intellectual grounding the role of rhetoric in politics and the law, social justice and activism, theoretical explorations, and the larger community.

Accessing Academic Community/Resources

  1. Connect with the National and Northwest Communication Associations.
  2. Opportunities for research with faculty such as researching and writing in communication and rhetoric journals and texts.


  1. Effective public presentation, discussion, and writing skills.

Critical Thinking

  1. Engage in deeper rhetorical analyses of the many forms of communication we are exposed to.
  2. Understanding of rhetorical, practical reasoning skills.
  3. Understanding of the empowering as well as damaging effects of our communication.

Research Experience

  1. Communication and Rhetoric journal and book research.
  2. Research in the kinds of rhetoric students are interested in. For example, legal rhetoric students will learn skills in using Lexis and FindLaw; political rhetoric students will learn to access political databases, blogs, campaign websites; etc.

After College

  1. Rhetoric Studies prepares students for after college experiences by developing effective communication skills both in presentations but also in the ability to evaluate what makes for effective advocacy.
  2. Rhetoric Studies prepares students in the area of their rhetoric interest. Political and legal rhetoric students might engage in political campaigns or become lawyers; Social activist students might participate in environmental or poverty reduction advocacy groups; Rhetoric and Discourse theory students might go on to engage in theoretical scholarship as professors or as communication analysts.
  3. Rhetoric Studies prepares students for graduate school in Communication and Rhetoric programs as well as programs in the kind of rhetoric in which the student is interested (politics, critical culture studies, social justice, discourse theory, etc.).