Writing Center Work and Empowerment
Higher education is widely perceived as a promise of empowerment: It is assumed that access to new fields of knowledge and new social and cultural practices will empower students in higher education to successfully acculturate into and participate in their chosen discipline-specific communities of practice. In higher education institutes without dedicated writing programs, ensuring that promise of empowerment often falls to Writing Centers and various other kinds of student development centers.
Writing centers have to ask themselves what kind of center they want to be: Do they want to interface in live or virtual spaces? Do they want to uncritically teach established formal conventions or invite students to explore the social and political motivations behind those forms? Do they wish to pursue a deficit model? Or do they want to promote a more critical analysis of situated, disciplinary writing practices in third-level education? An Academic Literacies approach requires that writing centers address how teachers and student writers are positioned by the inherently hierarchical social relationships that motivate, even dictate literacy practices in any given disciplinary or institutional context.
Considering these aspects we want to focus the following question at our EWCA Conference 2020:
What can Writing Centers do to make the academic promise of empowerment come true?
We hope that this crucial question will be appealing and appropriate to generate a lot of interesting answers that we can discuss during our EWCA conference next year.