This is the course website for English 302, Section 28, taught by Quinn Warnick at Iowa State University during fall 2006. Please refer to the policy document and syllabus for more information about this class. Updates to the syllabus will be posted one week in advance, and any changes to the readings and/or assignments will be reflected in the summaries for each week.
Case Study Response Assignment
Case Study Response Assignment(Worth 10% of your grade)
IntroductionEach year, the Association for Business Communication holds a case study competition open to all college students. This year’s case is designed to encourage you to think critically about how communication shapes an organization’s relationship with a community and how that relationship can influence the organization’s bottom line. Your task is to read the case and respond by creating two documents:
- Student Strategy: Write a memo to your instructor in which you identify and describe the audience, objectives, and ramifications of the case and explain the strategy you will use to write the message. This document will not be evaluated as part of the contest; rather, academic and professional readers will use it to understand your strategy.
- Communication Plan: As a communication consultant for a fictitious new research facility (not Brookhaven Labs), develop a communication plan in memorandum format that can help the CEO of that new facility establish a mutually beneficial working relationship with the neighboring community and protect it against the type of unfortunate situation Brookhaven Labs faced. You may conduct research to assist you in developing your response.
The CaseAs science and technology are becoming more powerful in their potential to affect human lives, research institutions cannot afford to put technical expediency above human interests. This case study is an example of what can happen when a research facility, driven by scientific and technological expediency, loses the fight for the hearts and minds of the public.
The Story of the Conflict. When Brookhaven National Lab was founded in 1946, public affairs did not seem very important. Located in the middle of Long Island, the lab was surrounded by pine forests with only occasional farms and fishing villages marking the landscape. Preoccupied with their research over the years, scientists paid little attention to the lab’s public image or to the fact that, in the 50 years since the lab’s founding, the community in which it resided had become more populated, more affluent, and more environmentally aware.
In addition, because the lab’s equipment had aged during those 50 years, a growing number of environmental problems were raising concerns among community activists. The most damaging blow came in January 1997 when a tritium leak was discovered in one of the lab’s nuclear reactors. Notably, both researchers and environmental activists agreed that contamination was minimal and posed no threat to the neighboring communities or the environment. But the public, in the dark about the lab’s activities for 50 years, was already angry for what they perceived as the lab’s “scientific arrogance.” In addition, many in the community were convinced the lab was conducting secret and potentially dangerous research.
The situation was further aggravated by the lab’s mishandling of the tritium crisis. While residents expected warm reassurances and profound apologies for the situation, scientists fed them numbers on risk analysis and flow rates. The scientists’ appeal to reason was lost on the angry and scared members of the community and their lack of openness was perceived as a lack of integrity.
When the Department of Energy decided to close the reactor permanently in 1999, hundreds of Brookhaven scientists, unemployed after the cancellation of dozens of experiments, left the lab with a bitter feeling that “cynical politics won over scientific truth.”
Your Assignment. As a communication consultant for a fictitious new research facility (not Brookhaven Labs), develop a communication plan that can help that new facility establish a mutually beneficial working relationship with the neighboring community and protect it against the type of unfortunate situation Brookhaven Labs faced. You may conduct research to assist you in developing your response.
Assignment DetailsYou will submit both of your documents (the “student strategy” memo and the “communication plan”) as a single file. When you are ready to upload your assignment to the class website, please name your file as follows: Full_Name_Case_Study_Response.doc (for instance, my file would be named “Quinn_Warnick_Case_Study_Response.doc”). The deadline for this assignment is Friday, October 27, before midnight.
Evaluation CriteriaI will evaluate this assignment using the Association for Business Communication’s criteria, which were developed for this case study competition. Hence, a successful assignment will:
- Exhibit a clear understanding of the audience, use an appropriate tone and style, establish the desired relationship, and motivate the desired outcome.
- Accomplish the purpose of the message by stating a clear position and supporting that position with logical points/sub-points, insightful reasoning and/or persuasive examples.
- Be well organized and easy to follow, include appropriate headings/bullets/lists, and use smooth transitions.
- Demonstrate superior mastery of vocabulary and superior facility with conventions of standard written English (grammar, usage, and mechanics) and use generally accepted U.S. business writing practices.
- Use an appropriate format and document design.
- Include content that presents solution steps acceptable to the technical staff as well as general lay people in the community, as well as other content you think appropriate.