History & Legacy


In January 2005, the Department of English at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque began its Writing Across Communities (WAC) initiative. A series of three semester-long conversation-building events and culminating colloquia took place in April, 2005. The keynote speaker at this event was Dr. Juan Guerra, associate professor of English at the University of Washington.

The goal of the WAC project is to help University faculty, graduate teaching instructors, administrators, and staff understand the many contexts in which students need to read and write effectively, and to provide instruction to meet those needs. The University, a federally-designated Hispanic-serving institution with a diverse student body, enrolls approximately 5,000 freshmen each year. The presence of diverse discourse communities represents a source of strength in our classrooms as we educate students for global lives in the new century, lives in which the ability to communicate fluently across boundaries is essential.

The WAC project, which works closely with the Rhetoric and Writing Program in the Department of English, engages students and teachers together to examine and explore the linguistic, rhetorical, and literacy resources brought to the classroom by UNM students. WAC seeks innovative approaches to developing literacy resources, and helping students gain the knowledge needed for leadership in academic, professional, and community contexts.
An outline of the questions that will be posed each semester follows:

Fall 2005 "Inviting Our Students to Academic Literacies "
How do disciplinary discourses at the university build on what students learn in writing courses? How can we bridge academic and community discourses, to help our students enter the disciplinary communities they seek to join?

Spring 2006 "Preparing Paths to Professional Literacies"
How can we prepare all our students for access to and success in the professional and workplace discourse communities they will enter after graduation?

Spring 2005 "Knowing Our Students"
What are the characteristics of the discourse communities-personal, civic, and academic-that our students bring to the university? How diverse are these practices, and how does that diversity affect curriculum and teaching?