Civic Issue

Civic Issue


Write a letter in which you urge your readers to take action on a civic issue. You decide on the

issue. (Civic issues can include such topics as voting, exercise, diet, finances, safety, etc. Begin

with a topic and narrow it down to an argument.


Use metadiscourse to explain your letter’s goals from start to finish in a mission statement. Make

it clear who your authority figure/audience is (editor of a newspaper, state senator, city council

member, school board official, etc.) and the specific genre and setting (via the mail, the press,

etc.) in which you are delivering your argument. Also indicate your purpose for writing this



Provide context by discussing the issue that you are concerned about and by synthesizing the

different perspectives on this issue that you have researched by reading sources or by talking to

others who are also concerned. (Consult at least two sources, which can be formal written texts

or interviews.)


Using a blend of appropriate rhetorical appeals (ethos for credibility and character, pathos for

emotions, logos for logic) and strategies (tone, diction, organization of argument, etc.), make an

argument (a main claim with three points/sub-claims) that urges your audience to take action on

this issue.


Conclude by warning your readers to do something as soon as possible. Restate your three sub-

claims in the same order in which you stated them before. Include your name with credentials to

reinforce your credibility.


Cite your sources in a separate page.


How to Structure This Project:

Greet your specific readers (Dear ___,)


Introduction: Use metadiscourse to explain your project’s goals from start to finish in a mission

statement paragraph.


Establish your credibility at the onset of your letter so that readers will listen to you and trust that

you know your subject and have done your research. Give some indication of the genre, setting,

and purpose of your letter.


Provide a paragraph or two of context by discussing this issue that you are concerned about and

by synthesizing the different perspectives on this issue that you have researched.


Make an argument with three points, in three paragraphs, using a blend of appropriate rhetorical

appeals and strategies to influence your particular readers. Urge your audience to take action on

this issue. Use the info you researched in sources to reinforce your position. If you consider an

opposing viewpoint, acknowledge it briefly, but then refute it and maintain your own position.




Make sure that the three sub-claims are clearly indicated in your topic sentences near the

beginning of your body paragraphs. Use metadiscourse to guide readers through your argument.


Conclusion: Convince your readers to so something as soon as possible. Restate your three sub-

claims in the same order in which you stated them before.

Close your letter with an adverb (sincerely, respectfully, etc.) and your name with your

credentials (job title, years of experience, years at your residence, etc.).

Include an additional page, separate from the letter, with information about sources that you

researched and used for this project.

Criteria for Evaluation (How You Are Graded)

Successful writers will

1. Answer all parts of the prompt.

2. Write a cohesive and well edited letter.

3. Upload their rough draft and final draft to Turn It In before the deadline.

4. Complete 3-5 pages (format: single spaced with extra spaces after the greeting, between

the paragraphs, and before the closing).

Tips for Writing the Civic Letter

There should be only one argument (main claim) for this project.

The argument should be specific and clear (not a broad, general topic).

The argument should have three sub-claims (three points that pertain to that argument).

You must support your argument and its sub-claims with all three rhetorical appeals and some

rhetorical strategies of your choice.

(There’s no need to write the words ethos, pathos, logos; just incorporate the following three

rhetorical appeals: credibility and character, emotion, and logic, into your letter in order to

engage your readers.)

Rhetorical appeals:

Ethos: In your first or second paragraph introduce yourself with credentials so that you can be

trusted. Incorporate your credibility into your letter at key points to establish your character and

be persuasive.

Pathos: Try to engage your readers’ emotions at certain points in your letter.

Logos: Use hard evidence (data, statistics, etc.) as logic to convince your readers to do




Examples of an argument:

You should support ___.

We need funding for ___, so you should help us.

You should vote in favor of (or against) ___.

Examples of sub-claims:

Doing so would result in the following three benefits: 1…, 2…, 3…

Not doing so would have the following negative consequences: 1…, 2…, 3…


Support each sub-claim with evidence that you researched (interviews with fellow concerned

citizens, print sources, etc.).

Use really clear language (metadiscourse) to guide your readers through your points so that they

don’t get bogged down in your evidence. Place that metadiscourse at the start of each paragraph,

incorporated into your topic sentences, so readers can follow your train of thought.

Examples of metadiscourse:

In this letter I will…

My first point is…

My second point is…

My third point is…

To recap…

Watch my lecture for help.

Read the sample student civic letters for help.

Look for the following in the students’ civic letters: the argument; the three sub-claims; the three

rhetorical appeals, the strategies, and the evidence used to support the argument and its three

sub-claims; and the metadiscourse.

See how the writer clarifies the purpose for writing this letter.



Notice the specific audience (authority figure) that the writer is appealing to and how the writer

tailors this letter to that specific reader.


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