Technical communication in place-making professions: Exploring the network pictures of urban designers

Fernando Sanchez, Purdue University


This dissertation addresses how professional writing as a field can pay attention to broader definitions of design in order to help further conversations of spatial justice (the act of helping to promote equity in matters of development in urban spaces). I begin by noting the conversations that have circulated regarding the relationship between urban design and rhetoric, noting that professional writing can help add a unique lens to the conversation. The second chapter provides an overview of how design is discussed in technical communication scholarship. Here, I showcase how most of these discussions regarding research in design have centered on textual documents and also provide a model that bridges the different roles that researchers in technical communication have taken on when studying such artifacts. In short, these roles have included acting as Observers, Testers, Critics, Creators, and Consultants. In chapter 3, I provide a brief overview of the field of urban design—the field interested in the design of cities. Having a better understanding of the history of and current controversies in urban design, I discuss the methods and results of my empirical study in which I track the influences that urban design paraprofessionals rely on as the design in hopes of gaining a better understanding of how they view public, private, and nonhuman actors within their particular contexts. I end this project with a pedagogical proposal in which students in technical writing courses can come to learn more about tackling wicked design problems. In this way, civil engineers and other students interested in city and spatial design can better see the ways in which their designs require the input of local stakeholders and the problems that can arise from taking on top-down design decisions.




Sullivan, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Technical Communication|Rhetoric|Urban planning

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