Agricultural Communications I (EDRD 3050)
University of Guelph, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (Ontario Agricultural College)
Class meets Mondays, 7-10 p.m. in Mackinnon 029
Instructor: Prof. Owen Roberts
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 58278
Office: Room 445 University Centre
Office hours: Daily…but contact me first by phone or email to make sure I am available
About Agricultural Communications I (EDRD 3050)
This course focuses on developing an understanding and ability to apply practical and effective agricultural communication techniques through regular writing exercises and related activities, such as public speaking. Special emphasis is given to issues important to the agri-food sector, as communicated in general interest media and farm publications, which students will be expected to read throughout the semester.
Course content and delivery will reflect the realities of the agricultural news and communication business, especially adherence to deadlines. Students will carry out timely assignments, including citizen journalism exercises, agricultural-based news writing and speech preparation for the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (http://www.cysa-joca.ca/english/) competition.
What is agricultural communications?
As a field of teaching, research and practice, agricultural communications seeks to support and improve human interaction and decision making related to agriculture, broadly defined. With special traditions and strengths in journalism and mass communications, it partners with other social sciences, including school-based interests of agricultural education and non-formal education endeavours, such as extension services. Communication interests range across all levels, settings and means of communicating – intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and mass. Agricultural interests include all subject areas related to the complex global enterprises of food, feed, fibre, bio-based energy, genomics, natural resources management and rural development. Agricultural dimensions also span all participants in, and stages of, the food enterprise of societies, from agricultural research, policies, finance and production to food safety and security, consumption, nutrition and health and human well-being. The concept of agricultural knowledge management serves as the framework for an integrated, comprehensive research agenda in agricultural communications. (source: First edition, National Research Agenda, Agricultural Education and Communication , page 9)
Course format and student evaluation
This course has three assignments and a quiz.
Assignment 1 — Speech writing and delivery, 30 per cent
Assignment 2 — Agricultural news story, 30 per cent
Assignment 3 — Citizen journalism, 40 per cent
Quiz — 15 per cent
Total — 100 per cent
* * *
Course evaluation will be online.
* * *
Assignment 1 — Speech writing and delivery (30 per cent). Students will work independently on a speech 5-7 minutes in length. The speeches will be delivered in class and judged by an expert panel, which will pick the top six speeches. Those students will be offered the opportunity to take part in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (CYSA) competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, by having their competition entrance fees ($40) waived, courtesy of the Ontario Agricultural College Alumni Association. All other students who meet the competition requirements are also welcome to take part, but will not have their entrance fees waived.
Students will choose from the following five topics, which are established by the CYSA organizing committee:
- Does supply management belong in Canadian agriculture?
- A national food policy: challenges and opportunities for Canada
- The main things people need to know about farming today are …
- Here are farmers’ biggest opportunities
- The importance of water for agriculture and globalization
Marking scheme for speech:
Content – 20 per cent
Delivery – 10 per cent
See rules (including thanking- and introducing requirements) at http://www.cysa-joca.ca/english/rules.php. Pay particular attention to the senior competition score sheet.
Assignment 2 — Agricultural news story (30 per cent). Students will write, in journalistic style, a 300-word news story on a local food producer and processor or retailer working together. Story will involve members of the Guelph Wellington Taste Real local food program. Students will choose a topic from a list provided by program coordinator.
Marking scheme for news story:
Content – 20 per cent
Style – 10 per cent
Assignment 3 — Citizen journalism (40 per cent). Students will use the web logging (i.e. “blogging”) platform WordPress (access at www.wordpress.com) to create a blog designed to promote discussion on agricultural topics. Students are to approach this assignment as citizen journalists, and regard the blogs as a medium for raising relevant agri-food news and issues. Eight 250-word entries – one per week, starting the week of October 8, 2012 – are required. Use Canadian Press style for entries.
Each blog entry should be three paragraphs. Each paragraph should be 80-90 words long.
Follow this format:
- Paragraph one: introduce the issue, address the “what”
- Paragraph two: explain what’s new with the issue (this is the news, the objective part, the “so what”)
- Paragraph three: state your opinion about the issue (this is your commentary, the subjective part, the “now what”)
1. Sunday, October 14 (set up your blog and email me the URL)
2. Sunday, October 21
3. Sunday, October 28
4. Sunday, November 4
5. Sunday, November 11
6. Sunday, November 18
7. Sunday, November 25
8. Sunday, December 2
Marking scheme for citizen journalism exercise:
Content – 40 per cent (eight entries, five per cent each) based on
Post your entry anytime during the week. Deadline is 6 p.m. on the date the postings are due. Late entries will not be marked.
You are being marked solely on content, but you are welcome to increase interest and readership by enhancing your blog with visuals (photos, graphics, videos, etc.).
This semester’s blogs:
* * *
Recommended reading and viewing
1. The Globe and Mail (www.theglobeandmail.com)
2. The Toronto Star (www.thestar.com)
3. Ontario Farmer (www.ontariofarmer.com)
4. Better Farming (http://www.betterfarming.com/homepage)
5. Guelph Mercury (www.guelphmercury.com)
6. CBC radio and television (www.cbc.ca)
7. Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (http://www.library.illinois.edu/funkaces/acdc)
Fundamental writing help:
Writing Services at U of G Library (http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/assistance/writing_services//)
1. Canadian Press Stylebook (http://www.thecanadianpress.com/books.aspx?id=182)
2. Oxford Concise Dictionary (www.askoxford.com)
3. Online Writing Laboratory at Purdue University (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/)
1. Learn from the best: Tips from Toastmasters.
2. A wealth of resources about giving a speech, along with presentation skills.
3. Public speaking tips from MIT’s undergraduate research opportunities program.
1. A primer on citizen journalism from Wikipedia.
2. A marketer discusses challenges and opportunities about blogging…
3. …and then talks about how to write “killer” blog posts
4. What makes a good blog?
5. From a UK student journalist: How journalism students can get involved in citizen journalism.
6. Assessing your blog traffic
- log in to wordpress
- locate the bar at the top and click on ‘my dashboard’
- scroll down the page a bit and on the right hand side there should be a box titled ‘stats’ and in it a graph
- move your mouse over the circles on the graph to see how many views you’re getting
1. Editing out jargon and creating clarity.
2. One of the best all-around journalism sites anywhere: http://journalistexpress.com/
* * *
Specific learning outcomes
When the course concludes, students will be able to:
1. Write and deliver a 5-7 minute speech for a general adult audience, on an important agricultural topic.
2. Differentiate by example between subjective journalism (i.e. citizen journalism) and objective news writing.
3. Write a 300-word news story and understand the inverted pyramid writing style for news.
4. Create a web log (i.e. a “blog”) and engage in citizen journalism on relevant agricultural issues and topics.
5. Apply Canadian Press style to journalistic writing.
|Schedule of activities|
|Agricultural Communications I|
|1||September 10||Course introduction|
||Public speaking workshop
|3||September 24||Rehearsal:In-class speak-offs for Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture competition|
||In-class speak-offs for Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture competition|
|5||October 8||Thanksgiving (no class)|
|6||October 15||Introduction to blogging and news writing
|7||October 22||Blogging and news writing, continued; guest speaker Kate Vsetula re: local food initiatives
||Local food story lottery; guest speaker Phil Andrews in journalistic writing|
||Lead writing workshop|
|11||November 18 (Sunday)
||First story draft due|
||Final story draft due|
||Make-up class for Thanksgiving holiday (individual story review of final draft; meet in Owen’s office anytime after 4:30 p.m.)
Communicating by e-mail and the class listserv
As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <uoguelph.ca> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.
Class announcements will be posted on the email listserv AGCOMNET. Class members are subscribed through their uoguelph.ca email accounts.
To use agcomnet, type email@example.com in the “to” field, type in your message, send, and all your classmates (as well as your professor) receive your message.
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The academic misconduct policy is detailed in the undergraduate calendar:
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Recording of materials
Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the written permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.
Copies of out-of-class assignments
Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.