Going Public: What Writing Programs Learn from Engagement

Going Public: What Writing Programs Learn from Engagement

Going Public: What Writing Programs Learn from Engagement

Going Public: What Writing Programs Learn from Engagement

Excerpt

We locate the work of this volume in the context of three conversations: 1) the recent public engagement movement in higher education, particularly as this movement serves to address and respond to calls for colleges and universities to be more accountable to the broader public; 2) recent interest in exploring perspectives on public discourse/civic rhetoric among scholars of rhetorical history and contemporary rhetorical theory; and 3) the service-learning movement in higher education, in particular the ways in which college and university writing programs have contributed to this movement.

The 1990 report authored by Ernest Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, and the 1999 report of the Kellogg Commission, Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged Institution, are frequently credited with initiating the discussion of “engagement” in the higher education community. These two documents have subsequently become touchstones for exploring relationships between higher education institutions and the communities they serve. The Kellogg Report articulated a central commitment, expressed as follows: “Embedded in the engagement ideal is a commitment to sharing and reciprocity. By engagement, the Commission envisions partnerships, two-way streets defined by mutual respect among the partners for what each brings to the table” (9). It is to this ethic of reciprocity that our title for this volume refers, as our contributors give accounts that describe, evaluate, and theorize what they have learned from their work with their engagement partners. Further, the Kellogg Report defined shared goals and criteria for assessing engagement efforts:

The engaged institution must accomplish at least three things: 1. It must be
organized to respond to the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s, not
yesterday’s. 2. It must enrich students’ experiences by bringing research and

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