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About RCID

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The Ph.D. in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design (RCID) is part of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities (CAAH) at Clemson University.

Clemson University is located in the City of Clemson in the Upstate region of South Carolina, and is part of the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson metropolitan area of over 1 million people. Our campus is adjacent to Lake Hartwell, near the Blue Ridge mountains, and about two hours away from three cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. Charleston is about four hours away on the South Carolina coast, while Asheville, North Carolina, is less than two hours away in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The RCID program, founded in 2005, is an interdisciplinary program within the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities that isn’t located within any single academic department. The RCID director, Dr. Cynthia Haynes, works with and reports directly to the CAAH dean. The director also chairs and works with the RCID Advisory Committee, which is composed of the faculty as well as students in the program.

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design is an academic-professional degree, preparing students to conduct research and to disseminate their findings through university teaching and through publishing in professional and popular journals. RCID prepares students, through research, to be professionals in traditional and emerging economies and to work with industry, government and nonprofit organizations. The vast majority of RCID students intend to work primarily in academia. In an ever-emerging economy for undergraduate and graduate education, alumni of our RCID program are uniquely suited to become faculty members in colleges of liberal arts and humanities, specifically in departments of English, rhetorics, composition/writing, communication studies, writing centers, new media – and other innovative academic departments and centers whose names and definitions have yet been determined.

The first word of the name of the program, "Rhetorics," intentionally appears in plural form. For some readers, this might seem peculiar, but this form of the word acknowledges that there is more than one rhetoric, for there is more than one culture. Rhetoric(s) – in all of its singular-plural possibilities – establish the conditions for how we discover not only the available means but also innovative forms of living, working and playing with others across a multitude of cultures. Through rhetoric(s) we not only build cultures but also construct multiple linkages among them. All rhetorics, therefore, are the cultural means of producing and realizing the everyday cultural business for:

  • determining public policies for tomorrow's actions (in the parliamentary system, deliberative discourses),
  • assessing yesterday's actions (in the legal system, judiciary-forensic discourses), and
  • memorializing our dead today (in ceremonial systems, through epideictic discourses).

Rhetorics, accordingly, provide us opportunities to live our lives as a future and a past in the present. The RCID program is culturally bound, acknowledging a multiplicity of cultures and preparing academics to live across those cultures.

In seminars, studios, colloquia and archives, RCID students learn theories and practices of:

  • rhetorical traditions and histories;
  • oral, print, and digital communication;
  • social-science and cultural research methodologies;
  • ethical and critical examinations of rhetorical and communicative exchanges and
  • pedagogical approaches to multimodal information design and electronic communications.

The RCID program attempts more. It seeks an overall balance of ecologies in rhetorics and communications. It features a cross-cultural, transdisciplinary curriculum with a conceptual emphasis on Aristotle's triad of knowing, doing and making, through theoretical, practical-pedagogical and productive approaches to knowledge. Communications is not simply speaking and writing. The RCID curriculum emphasizes the study and multimodal production of language-communication apparatuses such as pictographic and alphabetic rhetorics. More specifically, it explores gestural, silent, oral, aural, temporal-spatial, visual, written and digital rhetorics.

Faculty expertise and University infrastructure combine to provide RCID students with varied and abundant opportunities. Through cognate and elective seminars, colloquia and independent study with faculty, students prepare themselves to work in such areas as: Writing and Communication Across the Curriculum; visual communication; editing and production of digital publications; old and new media; critical theory; open source and intellectual property issues; audio and video cultures; serious computer games; literature and performing arts; science and technology; information design; and other emerging areas.