Hosted online by the writing center of the University of Graz (Austria), the theme of the European Writing Centers Association 2022 Conference was ‘Writing Centers as Spaces of Empowerment’, as pointed out by conference host Doris Pany (Graz) in the conference Call for Papers, “Higher education is widely perceived as a promise of empowerment”. Certainly, the romance of writing center work is that we foster competency, and thereby participation, in not only academic discourse but in the wider conversations unique to the democratic process that have consequences for how we govern ourselves, are governed by others and the extent to which we have access to those that govern. We strive to help those who come to us to become better writers, and in an academic context, that means more informed, critical thinkers, in short, good scientists: honest, trust-worthy, fair/balanced and respectful, leading by example, responsibly sustaining standards necessary to the maintenance of the integrity of one’s self as a citizen and a scholar and to the maintenance of the integrity of those institutions of which we regard ourselves as members.
The consensus was that the conference was a great success, probably exceeding everyone’s expectations given that events conspired in the eleventh hour to force what had been a long-anticipated live conference to become what may have understandably been perceived by many as another dreaded online conference. Endless thanks go to Doris’s Conference Organizing Committee: Lisa Wurzinger, Franziska Gürtl and Lukas Georg Hartleb, as well as those less visible but none-the-less diligent Sigrid Schneck and Katharina Deman. The conference ran so flawlessly, it was easy to forget that it was totally online. It was a wonderful experience. The idea of utilizing an online networking app at the end of the day was just icing on what was already a rich, satisfyingly flavourful cake.
The flawlessness of the delivery only made the quality of the content more apparent. For three days, 3 keynote presentations, 38 presentations, 5 workshops, 6 roundtables, 3 networking sessions and a number of Pecha Kuchas and posters addressed the empowerment of students, tutors, subject specialists, writing center directors, writing centers themselves and even the empowerment realized by retired writing center directors. All these sessions were attended and carried by 165 international participants including 48 students. The many approaches and strategies for the achievement of empowerment presented in these various forms of engagement are testament to the accuracy of Brad Hughes’ categorical breakdown, in his keynote presentation, of the writing center expertise and commitment on which writing centers are built. Approaches and strategies for empowerment included academic literacies approaches, other linguistic approaches, genre analysis, social strategies such as writers’ groups and retreats, collaborative writing, contrastive language strategies, translingual approaches, “small-teaching” and “working alliance” approaches and the use of actor-network theory and “writing as liberation”. Equally impressive and edifying were the number of marginalized groups treated: international students, other language learners, at-risk students, first-year/transitioning students, multilingual students and neuro-diverse students. Empowerment through the engagement with the emotional labor of writing, an often-neglected area, was addressed as was tutor-led writing centers, Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Peer Assisted Learning programs as agents for empowerment of both subject specialists and students. Finally, the issue of sustaining pedagogical integrity, particularly in the face of the corporatization of higher education, and Brad Hughes’ talk on “connectivism” spoke to the empowerment of writing centers themselves. Beside this variety of perspectives on empowerment, the conference also engaged with the very future of the EWCA itself. In the general assembly the EWCA members discussed their goals for the upcoming years and elected a new Executive Board for the period 2022-2024.
It is our hope that as we move away from our experience of the EWCA 2022 Conference toward the next biennial conference in 2024, those who heard Brad’s presentation will reflect on his ethical stance on writing centers, that they should be pedagogical workshops, continually experimenting, challenging unexamined assumptions, adapting to new contexts for writing and for teaching writing, engaging in plenty of “epistemic trespassing”.
Thank you all, members and non-members alike, for your patience, participation, comraderie and encouragment.
The EWCA Summer Institute 2023 is the EWCA’s second ever summer institute. Deemed a massive success by all who attended the first EWCA SI in Viadrina, the second SI in the American University of Armenia in Yerevan promises to be just as good if not even better.
The SI traditionally is a time for folks to get away from day-to-day responsibilities and to gather as a cohort, and while the extent to which you get away from mundane matters is up to you, this year’s cohort will enjoy the opportunity to virtually connect with writing center professionals across the globe. Just like in years past, participants can count on the experience to include a generous mix of:
Independent project time
One-on-one and small group mentoring
Connecting with cohort members
Special interest groups
Other engaging activities
The EWCA SI is for anyone who is:
Interested in or already providing writing support in learning centres, language centres, academic support centers, or writing centers
Starting up a new writing centre or interested in doing so
New to directing or working as professional staff a writing center
Looking for new direction for their writing center
Planning or expanding a writing center career
Interested in learning and sharing with writing center and writing support colleagues
Ready for more sustained discussions about writing support and/or writing centers than conferences offer
Please, keep the dates free. Come to Yerevan in May, 2023. There’ll be lots of interesting talk and activities. Come hungry and bring your dancing shoes (just in case). 🙂
The Centre for Academic Writing (CAW) at Coventry University, England re-opened on campus in August 2021 after operating as a fully-online writing centre between March 2020-July 2021 during the COVID pandemic. Although CAW has offered students synchronous and asynchronous writing tutorials via the Coventry Online Writing Lab (COWL) since 2010, the pandemic pushed staff to come up with new online booking processes and delivery methods in order to offer writing tutorials, a drop-in writing café, writing development workshops, undergraduate and postgraduate writing development modules, and staff consultations online. Two years on from the start of the UK’s first national ‘lockdown’, students and staff are back in CAW, tutorials are taking place either side of clear plastic screens as well as online, CAW’s Single Question Drop-ins are happening at a table in the University Library, and writing development workshops and modules are being delivered online. It’s great to be ‘back in the centre’ as well as retaining our online presence!
Introducing SKRIB, an international peer-reviewed, open access journal that facilitates intercultural dialogue around the development of writing programming and pedagogy in post-secondary institutions of higher learning around the world.
Developed by an international group of founding editors in response to the largely unidirectional flow of writing centre & composition program models outward from the United States, SKRIB calls for examinations of:
in-country development and operation of writing programs and pedagogy;
writing programs & pedagogy as cultural artifacts; cultural framings & histories of writing, rhetoric and their teaching;
the past, present, and future of Western (especially US) linguistic, epistemic, institutional hegemonic forces;
English as a commodity and colonizing force.
SKRIB invites critical approaches to scholarship that foreground relevant issues of colonialism, globalism, capitalism and neoliberalism, racism, ableism, as well as issues relating to patriarchy and gender inequality.
SKRIB is now accepting submissions to its inaugural issue, which will be published on a continuous basis over the course of 2022.
As an inaugural issue, we are looking to SKRIB’smission as a guide for submissions as well as explorations of different understandings of critical sustainability in writing programmes and writing centres.
Critical sustainability is an emerging interdisciplinary concept that brings environment, ecology, politics, and sociality into conversation. According to Rose and Cacheline (2018) socio- cultural approaches to critical sustainability call for system reformation through praxis that “undermines, subverts, and offers alternatives to existing systems” (p. 519). Ferreira (2017) centres critical consciousness development in this work, encouraging practices that acknowledge authoritarian socio-cultural tendencies and underpinnings. We invite authors to engage with this interdisciplinary concept to take a critical approach to the study of writing programmes and writing centres in local, transnational, and global contexts.
Please review author guidelines for information about journal sections as well as house style.
Join the SKRIB community! Serve as a peer reviewer and/or translator. We are looking to build a multilingual and international list of peer reviewers and translators, so please spread this invitation far and wide!
Interested translators, reviewers, and contributors can contact the journal editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In eager anticipation of your submissions,
Stevie Bell and Brian Hotson,
On behalf of the SKRIB Editorial Board:
Associate Professor, York University, Canada
Independent scholar, Canada
Directora de departamento, Departamento de Comunicación y Lenguaje, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Cali, Colombia
Director, Regional Writing Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland
Associate Professor, Wits University, South Africa
Faculty, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Faculty, Dartmouth (Université de Lille, France), US
Writing centers are popping up worldwide. As more and more institutions of higher education see the need to support writers, writing and writing to learn, they are opening writing centers. However, those tasked with trying to establish writing centers, most often have to learn their business by doing and in relative isolation.
To provide professionals and academics within Europe who are seeking to develop writing centers a sustained opportunity for professional development, the European Writing Centers Association offered its first Summer Institute August 19th-23rd at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany, directly at the German-Polish border. Thirty participants from 16 different countries participated. They were invited and accompanied by five experienced Writing Center leaders from Germany, Ireland, and the USA.
Because a central aspect of writing center work is the philosophy of collaborative learning, the Summer Institute was designed to be a truly interactive and participatory learning experience. All topics were delivered to allow all participants to share knowledge and experiences with each other. Together with their leaders, they enhanced their understanding of the following topics:
. Peer writing tutor education . Working with faculty and administration . Demonstrating impact: Writing center assessment and more . The Writing Center budget . Grant writing for writing center projects . Possible exchange programs (e.g. Erasmus) . Working with multilingual students . Writing center research and publication . Writing center sustainability
Participants also had ample time to network and to socialize as they walked together to our lodgings in a student hotel across the lovely Oder River that marks the border between Germany and Poland. They shared snacks from their home countries during our daily coffee breaks and spent time each day in small mentoring groups.
Collaboration on writing centre work
To celebrate our hard work at the closing of the Institute, participants created and staged writing circus characters in a Writers‘ Circus, “a very creative and great way to end our time together”, as a participant expressed it.
The feedback of participants was overwhelmingly positive and many expressed how they were looking forward not only to going back to their writing center work, but also to continuing the networking informally and through future summer institutes. The Summer Institute, one participant summarized, “showed me the incredible connections you make with people from all around the world, because we have that one thing in common: The love for writing – and writing consultations and centers!”
What:Workshop on writing center assessment with experts from the USA: Ellen Schendel und William Macauley
Where:Campus European-University Viadrina, Große Scharrnstraße 59, 15230 Frankfurt (Oder)
We are delighted that our university’s president Prof. Alexander Wöll will open the ceremonies. After the official opening we will hear speeches from Dr. Katrin Girgensohn, Director of the Center for Key Competences and Research-Oriented Learning at the Viadrina, as well as from Prof. Julie Nelson Christoph, Professor of English and Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound, USA. Ceremonies will close with a panel discussion on writing with teachers from all faculties of the European-University Viadrina.
Afterwards there will be accompanying entertainment and time to celebrate together with drinks and food.
We kindly ask you to register with this online form before 20 April 2017. Thank you.
Franziska Liebetanz, Katrin Girgensohn & the team of the Writing Center at the European-University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder)
*Detailed information about the time will be announced soon.