Emory Community-Engaged Writing strives to offer students authentic writing opportunities that are useful both inside and outside of the classroom. These opportunities are beneficial for students and the surrounding communities they work with, allowing students to comprehend the dialogic and rhetorical nature of writing, while simultaneously fulfilling concrete and practical community needs. Community-engaged writing is an instructional technique that demonstrates to students that writing is a live performance with real consequences, as students work with the community to produce (and publish) writing with a purpose for others to effective positive change. As a result, students begin to understand that they are already living in the “real world” and have the power and responsibility to engage civically with their local communities.
Emory Writing Program aligns with the mission of Emory University. See the Continuum of Engaged Learning produced by Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) regarding approaches and best practices of community-engaged learning, a graphic that reflects both student academic development and programmatic approaches. Note that the stages above function recursively, not necessarily linearly, particularly if students begin their community-engaged learning experiences in a community-engaged first year writing class.
Understanding the Continuum of Engaged Learning
- Learning from Communities: The continuum begins with community building practices—such as story circles and pretext seminars—that help participants recognize the power dynamics inherent in institutional roles, i.e. teacher, student.
- Service for Learning: In stage two, students individually volunteer to participate in Emory sponsored community-building projects. This step exposes volunteers to specific issues in their local community. While this stage does not explicitly encourage participants to question the systemic structures that makes the service necessary, it does allow them to serve.
- Connecting Classroom to Community: In stage three, students are involved in a community-engaged project with the support and academic guidance of a trained instructor. In a community-engaged writing class, instructors ask students to think critically about their engagement with the community project and to consider themselves and others in relation to power and the systems in which we all live our lives.
- Intensive Scholar-Service: This stage refers to student participation in Emory community-engaged programs after they have worked in a community-engaged classroom. This continued engagement allows students to see their work is part of a long and continuing history of laboring on this particular issue to create sustainable and substantive change in the communities in which they have been working.
- Transformative Community-Scholarship: In this fifth stage, students design and implement a researched writing project for the community. The writing project emerges from past community work and input from the community about particular issues that need further investigation and understanding.