NC State’s Jean Goodwin has been named SAS Institute Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
The professorship is made possible through the generosity of the SAS Institute Inc. and the State of North Carolina’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Fund. The professorship addresses two closely interrelated areas: Rhetoric designates an intellectual tradition and a set of analytical methods, while technical communication designates practical applications and concerns.
As the SAS professor, Goodwin will provide intellectual leadership and enhanced visibility for existing programs, create and teach courses, and help develop interdisciplinary connections with scholars at NC State. Beyond NC State’s campus, she will strengthen connections with industry and increase opportunities for industry-based course projects, and for student internships.
Goodwin, a professor in the Department of Communication, joined NC State in August 2016 as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Leadership in Public Science. “I work in the field of rhetoric, the humanistic study and teaching of civic discourse going back to classical times,” she says. “In a series of essays, I’ve explored how citizens who disagree, perhaps deeply, can design their discourse to create productive exchanges of reasons. I’ve recently focused on how scientists and other technical experts can communicate effectively and appropriately on controversial topics” such as GMOs and climate change. As part of NC State’s Leadership in Public Science cluster, Goodwin is responsible “for making sure that STEM students and faculty are prepared to engage the public.”
Goodwin’s National Science Foundation-funded project, Teaching Responsible Communication of Science, crafted case studies that invite science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate students to address communication challenges based on actual events. She has also built bridges between scholarly communities by helping communication graduate students find sites for funded research in large science projects, and by organizing a series of conferences bringing together diverse scholars to examine pressing issues in science communication.
Goodwin received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and her J.D. from the University of Chicago. After practicing law on the south side of Chicago for five years, she returned to academia and earned her Ph.D. in communication arts from the rhetoric program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In addition to more than 25 years in the classroom introducing undergraduates to the rhetorical tradition, she has mentored graduate students across a variety of communication subfields and academic departments. Her essays have been published in international journals in communication, philosophy and the sciences. She has served as a consultant on initiatives by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Union of Concerned Scientists to define the appropriate roles of scientists as advocates.
NC State recently conducted a Q&A with Goodwin about her work.