The practice of research in the Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development, College of Engineering reflects the School’s roots in the field of rhetorical communication. The study of rhetoric, defined as the theory and practice of persuasion, represents a tradition of problem-solving through language which goes back over 2000 years, and continues to evolve in response to the challenges of modernity, including technological advances in an increasingly globalized world.

SOPD faculty are committed to investigating how the humanist traditions of rhetoric can help us understand and enhance the role of communication in improving professional practice beyond its technical dimensions. Research into rhetoric and communication situates knowledge in the context of identity formation and the building of communities through how we talk about professional life and citizenship.

Faculty members are conducting research in a diverse range of fields including: pedagogy in professional education; public discourses such as advertising, media, public memory, and leadership; textual studies in the western cultural and rhetorical tradition; and cross-cultural rhetoric and communication theory and practice.  This research is critical, not only to maintaining breadth and relevance in our teaching and curriculum development, but also to establishing the School’s national and international reputation as a leader in the study of professional development.