Linguistics Professor Jacob Rawlins Receives Award for New Book

A book, written in part by linguistics professor Jacob Rawlins, won an award at an Association for Business Communication (ABC) conference in late October.

DETROIT, Michigan (October 25, 2019)—Jacob D. Rawlins, an assistant professor of linguistics, was recognized for his contribution to Rhetorical Theory and Praxis in the Business Communication Classroom at the Association for Business Communication’s 84th Annual International Conference in late October.

The book received given the 2019 Distinguished Book on Business Communication Award, an annual recognition given to a book or edited volume (excluding textbooks) “that has made a significant contribution to the discipline” and demonstrates excellence in its content, according to ABC’s website.

Rhetorical Theory and Praxis in the Business Communication Classroom is a compilation of ten essays composed by business educators from around the country. The volume presents a number of perspectives on the role of rhetoric in business communication, emphasizing pedagogical strategies to best address the changing nature of communication— “to strengthen theoretical foundations in what has long been a traditional classroom,” as Rawlins put it.

Rawlins’ chapter, titled “Inventio through Praxis: Connecting Competencies with the Canon,” addresses a challenge faced by business instructors: as communication becomes an increasingly essential part of the field, and as the platforms of communication constantly change, how can educators teach in a way that is both efficacious and practical? Rawlins presents a “competency-based approach” that allows students to understand current communication genres and prepare for emerging or future ones that may arise.

In 2016, Rawlins coauthored an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly titled “The Competency Pivot:  Introducing a Revised Approach to the Business Communication Curriculum”. ABC named it the Outstanding Article of the Year and it led to an invitation for Rawlins to pen the similarly themed essay for the 2019 book.

Rawlins has taught courses in editing and technical writing during his career, categorizing the ability to communicate as a nonnegotiable skill in the business field. All of the courses he teaches this semester apply to students enrolled in Editing majors or minors.

—Samuel Benson (Sociology ’23)