The Writing Center and Speaking Studio at WashU is hosting the fourth annual Gateway Writing Centers Association Conference on March 4, 2022. The conference will be held virtually via Zoom and is open to administrators, professional tutors, and student tutors from the St. Louis metropolitan area.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Writing Centers at the Intersection of Communication and Community.”
Communication and community are closely linked. Writing is communal: we write with others; we write for others; others write for us. The conversations arising from that writing shape the discourse of a community. Likewise, the conversations taking place within our writing centers play an important role within the broader campus and academic discourse communities. Our unique role presents both opportunities and challenges when it comes to influencing, building, or maintaining such communities, for we are part of each writer’s process of discovering why and how they want to engage readers within those groups.
These concerns have new poignancy as many writing centers have returned to our campus spaces and in-person consultations and workshops. Our relationships to our communities may have shifted – for better or worse – during the pandemic. New strategies, insights, and goals may have emerged during our time apart from both our students and our colleagues.
As a community of writing center consultants and administrators, we have the opportunity to reflect on the past and present and imagine possible futures. With this in mind, we encourage presentations and potential panels to address the following questions:
- How does or can a writing center build a community of writers?
- How are we part of a larger community of support for students?
- How can we further strengthen that community through faculty engagement and outreach?
- What are the limits or challenges we encounter?
- What new collaborations can we envision?
- What collaborations across the university do we celebrate and where is there room for growth?
- As the broader communities in which we operate change and evolve, particularly with regard to diversity, how do we ensure we are evolving to meet the needs of those communities?
- How can our centers build or participate in an equitable and anti-racist community?
- How has the pandemic reshaped or challenged our orthodoxies when it comes to how we engage with and support communities of writers?
Of course, there is also the question of our community of tutors or consultants who just spent a year working remotely:
- What were some successful ways in which we nurtured that community?
- As we have come back together within our centers, how have we sought to reconnect with one another?
- What challenges remain in reconstructing the thriving writing center communities we enjoyed before working remotely?
- How has this time reshaped our vision of what that community should or could be?
Each session will be limited to an hour, and individual presentations should be limited to 15 minutes each.