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DPI-801: The Arts of Communication

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Harvard Kennedy School

DPI-801: The Arts of Communication

Description: Today's leaders must have an ability not only to analyze thoughtfully but also to communicate clearly and persuasively. This course will seek to strengthen the capacity of each student to speak well in public settings while confronting a range of difficult leadership sitations. Approximately one-half of the course will be devoted to classes that introduce students to strategies of communication and to models of public presentations. The other half will consist of smaller workshops in which students will hone their skills in speaking. The course is designed for potential leaders in politics and public policy as well as other professions.

FacultyMarie Danziger (DPI-801A); Timothy McCarthy (DPI-801B)

Source: and (accessed 22 February 2013)



Additional course description from the syllabus

The course will primarily emphasize public oratory: how to find one’s voice; employ standard elements of persuasion; speak eloquently, passionately, and with authority; and express cultural identities and values. Along the way, the course will also address other aspects of public communication: writing op-eds; framing political issues; storytelling; ceremonial speaking; and arts and leadership. Over the course of the term, lectures and class discussions will highlight various rhetorical strategies like empathy, emotion, narrative, and humor. All assignments will require students to develop clear, substantive public messages that exhibit passion, intellect, and commitment. During the last week of class, each student will deliver a final original speech. 

Required and recommended reading:

George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant! (Chelsea Green, 2004)

Jay Heinrichs, Thank You for Arguing:  What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson

What Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us about the Art of Persuasion (Three Rivers, 2007)

William Safire, ed. Lend Me Your Ears:  Great Speeches in History (Norton, 2004)

Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, ed. This I Believe:  The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women (Henry Holt, 2007)

Andras Szanto, ed. What Orwell Didn’t Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics (Public Affairs, 2007)

Peggy Noonan, On Speaking Well (ReganBooks, 1999)

Jack Valenti, Speak Up with Confidence (Hyperion, 2002)

Roger Ailes, You Are The Message: Getting What you Want by Being Who You Are(Currency Dover, 1999.)

Jay Heinrichs, Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion (Three Rivers Press, 2007)

Lewis Copeland, The World’s Great Speeches, 4th Edition (Dover, 2000)

V. A. Howard and J. H. Baron, Thinking on Paper (Quill, 1986)

Strunk & White, The Elements of Style, 4th Edition (Allyn & Bacon, 1999) (Also available online at

Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles provide an excellent list of teaching topics for the Communication for Public Management subject. The titles are similar in the Danziger and and McCarthy syllabi. Where they differ, both are included below:

Elements of Rhetoric: Logos, Ethos, Pathos

Making Your Voice Heard:  Writing and Publishing an Op-Ed

Five Secrets of Powerful Communicators

Making Meaning with Mental Models

Speaking On the Spot: What to Say—and How to Say It

From the Page to the Podium: Mastery Over Memorization

Rhetoric, Persuasion and Public Deliberation

Don’t Think of an Elephant: Metaphors, Messaging, and Mobilization

Connecting with your Audience

Facing a Skeptical or Hostile Audience

Crisis Communication: Public Leadership in Difficult Times

Generating Emotional Impact: Storytelling

Empathy: Your Personal Credibility and Trustworthiness

Keeping It Real: Identity, Integrity, Inspiration

Expressing Identity: Acknowledging the Color of Your Lens

Framing the Argument: Debates and Dialogues

Ceremonial Speaking: Toasts, Tributes and Eulogies

Thinking on your Feet: Handling Questions and Answers

Dealing with the Media

Communicating through the Media

Communicating through Arts and Culture

Vision and Values: Brevity, Levity, Clarity, Charity

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 22 February 2013. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.



DPI-801B, Fall 2012, Timothy Patrick McCarthy.docDPI-801B, Fall 2012, Timothy Patrick McCarthy
DPI-801A, Fall 2012, Marie Danziger.docDPI-801A, Fall 2012, Marie Danziger

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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance