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Globalization amid the cornfields: teaching sustainable practices in the American Midwest

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Salvo, Michael (main author)
Online article
Publication Date:
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
agribusiness, agricultural development, communication analysis, communication methods, farmers, Illinois, USA, Indiana, USA, information needs, technical information, technical knowledge, rural communications, organic food, knowledge management, globalization, aquaculture, business communication, agricultural production
13 pages., The original website no longer has a copy of the article. Access is available through ERIC database. ERIC Number: EJ890607, Via online source., This article discusses three sites that disrupt accustomed expectations and roles for technical communication. These sites include an agricultural processing site that is requesting tax abatements in exchange for decreased emissions so that it can remain competitive in the global market. The second is also an agricultural manufacturing site that remains globally competitive by increasing efficiencies and expanding the range of products made at the site. Finally, the essay discusses a manufacturing facility that takes finished products-automobiles-and remanufactures them for a niche market of users. Each of these Midwestern sites is globally competitive and challenges expectations for high technology work. Taken together, they gesture toward new definitions of work, in new postindustrial context, and offer insight for defining technical communication in the postindustrial age. The remaining challenge, for scholars and teachers, is to articulate emerging literacy practices supporting postindustrial manufacturing, and to participate in the knowledge management that supports innovation. Here, each site takes something that would have previously been considered either finished product or waste and rearticulates it as an ingredient in a new product. At the least, technical communicators will need to learn to document such organization's innovation and change. At best, such change invites technical communicators, acting as knowledge managers, to articulate opportunities for innovation. Research, a traditional strength of technical writing preparation, allows organizations to better prepare and understand change, turning disruption into opportunity. Postindustrial business practices are no longer the work of futurists, but the reality and structure of the workplace today. Each work site described in this article presents opportunities for basic research into emerging workplaces in need of the expertise of technical and professional writers; each is an example and potential model for knowledge work.