Hey Roger (and all CASLLers)
A few weeks ago I enjoyed watching your online video of your November
2006 presentation at McGill University.
http://publish.uwo.ca/~rgraves3/ Thank you for sharing that online. I
just wanted to advertise it on the list and give you some public praise
for the good job you did at outlining the history and present state of
Writing Studies in Canada. There's a lot of interesting strategic stuff
there regarding the structure of writing courses and programs at
universities. The quality of the videorecording was marginal ... but
the content was great.
Roger, you talked about having Writing centers, a Writing across the
curriculum program, and a disciplinary home -- the U of Alberta 3-part
proposal recipe. Like you, I am also watching what is happening at U of
A just north of us with some interest, especially since my chapter in
your book really goes into U of A's recent history as a case study...
And this spring a U of C colleague in Science is bringing Chris Anson to
our campus to speak about WAC and writing instruction in Science.
Watching the presentation also brought back memories. It was at U of A
dept. of English as a PhD student in 1997 that I found your 1994 book on
their Salter Reading Room, and that was one of many influences that got
me to leave U of A's program in 1998 to do my PhD at Ohio State just
like you did ... the best 4 years of my education !!! Now who says
scholarly publishing can't make a difference in anyone's life? (It's
something I have often doubted myself.)
Roger, you talked about the NSSE survey a lot, and here it is very
important in the administration's mindset too. I worry a little that
the NSSE is going to be criticized by "rigorous" yet cynical professors
as merely another customer satisfaction survey, a way of dumbing down
education so that it is more "engaging" (read: synonym for
entertaining). It could certainly be used that way. Companies are also
talking about "employee engagement" so there is also a tinge of
managerialism in there. Of course, I think the potential goes the
other way too: the influence of the NSSE on the teaching of oral and
written communication and rhetoric could be very positive, depending on
how it's used. The active community engagement and academic engagement
of scholars and students could be viewed as a civic responsibility and a
way of participating in the discovery of knowledge. Who knows. ...
Let's see how it plays out in the next few years.
I am planning to reconnect at the Inkshed conference this year...
looking forward to it!
Tania S. Smith
Faculty of Communication & Culture
University of Calgary
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