Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

S. Scott Graham

Committee Members

William Keith, David Clark, Caroline Gottschalk-Druschke, Rachel Bloom-Pojar


Decisionmaking, Engagement, Policymaking, Rhetoric of Science, Science Communication, Wicked Problems


This dissertation examines an emerging “engaged rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine” (ERSTM)—an effort to ensure rhetoric’s “broader impacts” by more directly engaging the practices of science and sociotechnical policymaking. Through careful analysis of engaged rhetorical practice, I identify divergent conceptualizations of both rhetoric and engagement and subsequently draw on new materialist rhetorical theory and empirical research on science communication and public engagement to advance “problem-oriented rhetorical catalysis” (PRC) as a mode of engagement capable of advancing rhetoric’s institutional value and ethical commitments without abandoning its core disciplinary expertise and areas of inquiry. I further suggest the PRC is uniquely suited to address “wicked problems” and as such represents a productive alternative to deficit- and transmission-model engagement.