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The Technical Communicator as Participant, Facilitator, and Designer in Public Engagement Projects

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Purpose: This article reports on a study of professional public engagement specialists and their practices within one case of transportation planning. This study moves beyond the Environmental Impact Statement to reveal the practices used in making public engagement an inclusive and dialogic (rather than exclusive and one-way) process.

Methods: This qualitative study was conducted over two years and included formal and informal interviews, observations of workplace and public projects, and the collection of project documents.

Results: My findings suggest that technical communicators who hope to implement public engagement function across three different roles within the dialogic public engagement process: participant, facilitator, and designer.

Conclusions: The roles of participant, facilitator, and designer expand the potential of technical communicators and require an attention to understudied skills in the field of technical communication, including listening and interrogating boundaries.
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Keywords: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS; ETHNOGRAPHY; INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION; PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2017

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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