The Public Speaking Initiative: Speaking Across the Curriculum

Here at UCSB, Public Speaking is a team effort that brings together an interdisciplinary coalition of scholars from such Departments and Programs as Communication, English, Feminist Studies, French and Italian, History, Spanish and Portuguese, Theater, and Writing. At a moment when the University of California rises to the challenges posed by the twenty-first century, engaged communication has never been more urgent. For our undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, so too is training in effective public speaking, which is as foundational to law, politics, and art as it is to virtually any field, career, industry, or community. Thus, UCSB renews its commitment to this cornerstone of our curriculum with a UC-wide approach to the history, theory, and practice of the time-honored rhetorical art of oral persuasion.

Thanks to generous support from UCOP and from UCSB’s Office of Undergraduate Education and Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, The Public Speaking Initiative is designed to foster creative collaboration in civic as much as civil —dialogue. We are dedicated to these core goals:

  • To help our students empower themselves as articulate citizens on their campuses, in their nations, and in their world;
  • To teach, foster, and model open, respectful conversation with all types of listener, including those with whom the speaker disagrees;
  • To share our research on the history, theory, pedagogy, and practice of oral communication;
  • To devise and facilitate strategies for system-wide implementation of curricula in public speaking;
  • To explore partnerships with local commerce and nonprofits as well as with social, pre-professional, or professional societies dedicated to effective speaking;
  • To amplify grant recipients’ expertise in the public outreach that is increasingly mandated by granting agencies;
  • To sustain and enhance UC’s mission of diversity through campus workshops for special- interest and advocacy groups.

Consistent with the purpose of UCOP’s Research Opportunity Funds—to  “increase UC’s competitiveness, advance research discoveries, impact the lives of Californians, inform public policy or support innovative graduate student research”—we believe that face-to-face communication must play its part in that mission. On behalf of the Steering Committee and all those involved in the PSI, we welcome questions and invite you to join us in our work.           

Jody Enders, Director, The Public Speaking Initiative
Distinguished Professor of French