ENGL 201W |Writing for Advocacy & Community Engagement

Fall 2023 | T/TH 10:45a-12p | Honors Hall 09


Dr. Andrea Rosso Efthymiou (Ef-thee-mee-oo) or

Office Location: Klapper 612

Office Phone: 718-997-5687

Office Hour: TH 9:15-10:15am*

*If you can’t meet during office hours, please email me, and we’ll arrange a good time for you.

This course is Writing Intensive (W), which means there will be a significant portion of time devoted to writing instruction. This may include things such as revision workshops, discussions of rhetorical strategies, or reflective writing about writing assignments. Because I often ask students to write in class—and receive credit for that in-class work—it is important that you come to class regularly and are prepared to engage with our community.

Course Outcomes

In this course, you will …

  • Analyze writing and communication strategies, including counterstorytelling, that individuals and groups use to persuade public audiences about pressing social issues;
  • Synthesize theories of community writing with your own life and writing experiences to understand how writing and rhetoric can be best-leveraged to forward social justice;
  • Develop a repertoire of rhetorical strategies for producing, revising, and editing writing for civic action.


Your successful fulfillment of this course depends on you being in class. Our class will be highly collaborative, a quality central to civic engagement. Class time is also when you’ll start writing for your blog. If you miss two classes, you will miss in-class writing assignments (which cannot be made up for a grade), collaborative exercises, opportunities to engage with your peers, and knowledge that we create together. Missing class will negatively affect your final grade. If you miss four classes, you are at risk of failing the course. If you must miss class for an unavoidable reason, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed, keep abreast of assignments and due dates, and be in touch with me with questions.

Assignments & Grading

You will deliver all your course work online via a WordPress blog that YOU CREATE! I’ve set up our course site ( on a WordPress platform and will support you in setting us yours.

Attendance & In-class Writing                                    20%

Counterstorytelling Project                                         20%

Rhetorical Analysis of Local Advocacy                    25%

Community Engagement Final Project                    35%


Attendance & In-class Writing (20%)

To fulfill this portion of your grade, I ask that you attend every class session on time and stay in class until the end. Be prepared to take notes, have the day’s reading and writing assignments available, work productively with fellow students, listen attentively to what others have to say, and contribute meaningfully to class discussion. Your attendance and participation in this course are crucial to your successful completion of in-class writing assignments, homework for your blog, and all major assignments. Your attendance and participation will also help to create a positive atmosphere and sense of community.

Counterstorytelling Project (20%) (individual)

To write as members of a community, we must also think about our individual identities. This project invites you to tell your own counterstory, an alternative narrative that respond to dominant narratives that circulate in our culture. Counterstory is a method of critical race theory that has historically been used to create space for marginalized voices. While our collective counterstories may or may not explore questions of racial identity, we will honor this powerful tradition to consider how counter-narratives challenge the status quo. For this project, everyone will compose their individual counterstory. Think about what counterstories can you tell to advance social justice for historically marginalized people or a historically marginalized cause. We will share excerpts aloud with one another early in the semester.

Rhetorical Analysis of Local Advocacy, Presentation (25%) (paired work)

This project, which you will complete in two-person teams, asks you to select a local activist initiative (e.g., Make the Road NY, Knights Table Food Pantry, Knight News, or Long Island Strong School Alliance) and study the rhetorical strategies used by that movement. You will focus on a specific event or set of connected elements of the movement, or a set of “texts” that forward the movement, rather than the movement as a whole. Your goal will be to analyze 4-6 texts created to forward the movement and how they reach audiences. You might address how textual strategies advance the message of the movement, disrupt established discourse, assert the ethos of marginalized groups, and/or encourage other groups to listen empathically to their experiences and arguments.

Community Engagement Final Project (35%) (group work)

For this project, you will work in small groups to compose multimodal advocacy on our campus or in your local community. Your projects will identify a target audience, a clear need (or exigence) and will develop a plan of action to fulfill a purpose. Your final may include some combination of audio, videos, images, and written content. The goal of this project is to practice a range of rhetorical strategies to connect with and strengthen your college and/or local community. You will present your final project to the class at the end of the semester.


The following is a breakdown of grading for major assignments in this course:


B+        87-89.9%

C+      77-79.9%





B           84-86.9%

C           74-76.9%


59.9% or below



B-         80-83.9%

C-         70-73.9%



Missed in-class writing assignments CANNOT be made up. If you feel you have a unique circumstance that requires extra time for a major assignment, it is your responsibility to be in touch with me at least 48 hours before an assignment is due, at which time we will determine together how to proceed. If you do not contact me in advance and you hand-in an assignment late, you risk not receiving credit for late work.

For important dates and CUNY deadlines, see the Academic Calendar webpage.


I welcome and encourage students to bring to class any technologies (such as laptops, mobile phones, or tablets) that they think will enhance their learning. My policy with technological devices is, generally, “it isn’t a problem until it’s a problem.” This means if I find that your technology (or use of a particular technology) is distracting to you or other students, I may ask you not to bring that technology to class any further.

This class makes use of software and resources that are available online. This class is also paperless, so you do not need to worry about printing anything out. That said, it would be very helpful if you bring a laptop or tablet to class as many of our activities will be enhanced by having them.

The Writing Center

As the Writing Center Director, I’m a BIG fan of the kind of support the Center offers. I encourage you to check out the Center’s webpage to read tutor bios & make appointments.


Academic Honesty:

Academic Integrity refers to the way scholars identify and give credit to the sources that help shape their ideas. Citing sources looks different depending on the genre and discipline. Please read CUNY’s Academic Integrity Policy to understand the college’s consequences for academic dishonesty.

Student writing that makes use of a generative AI tool, and that is not in response to a specific assignment requiring AI, must be accompanied by a statement from the student articulating the process by which the student incorporated AI technology into their writing practice. The statement should identify the generative AI tool used, define the student’s role in the creative process, and include a reflection on the student’s decision to employ AI technology, as well as links to all potential source materials.

Disability Accommodations:

Students who need accommodations for a disability should contact the Office of Special Services for Students with Disabilities.

Additional Resources for Students:

Students may also find the following resources helpful: the Petrie Emergency FundCounseling Services, the Food Pantry, and the Immigrant Student Support Initiative.

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