History & Legacy

National Consortium of Writing Across Communities

In January 2005, the University of New Mexico launched the Writing Across Communities (WAC) Initiative with the interdisciplinary support of faculty, staff, and students. Although other universities refer to programs that encourage the development of writing and literacy as Writing Across the Curriculum (also referred to as WAC) or Writing in the Disciplines (WID), the University of New Mexico named its program Writing Across Communities to signal the importance of the culturally diverse UNM student body.

WACommunities at UNM supports, connects, and enhances the intellectual life of students and faculty engaged in the academic mission of creating and circulating knowledge. WACommunities asserts that literacy education is both a civil right and a civic responsibility. The success of WACommunities at UNM in promoting student-faculty engagement and dialog not only about writing, but also other topics of civic importance, has led to a national conversation that now includes other universities.

UNM is the founding chapter of the newly established National Consortium of Writing Across Communities (NCWAC), representing twenty-seven affiliated institutions. The NCWAC stakeholders affirm educational principles and cultural practices that promote the maintenance and wellbeing of human communities through literacy and writing. The NCWAC seeks to guide curriculum development, stimulate resource-sharing, cultivate networking, and promote research in language practices and literacy education throughout the nation, and to support local colleges and universities working to serve vulnerable communities within their spheres of influence.

The members of NCWAC will convene during the 2011 Conference of College Composition and Communication in Atlanta to draft its formal mission statement and action items. In the spirit of the past six years of WACommunities at UNM, the NCWAC will continue to advocate for culturally-relevant approaches to literacy education for historically-underserved student populations; promote resource-sharing between faculty and graduate students; mentor graduate students and junior faculty; serve as a clearinghouse for collaborative scholarly projects (conference panels, dissertation committees, research initiatives, visiting scholars, guest lectures); promote curriculum development. The NCWAC will host a Higher Education Literacy Summit in Summer 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for college teachers and graduate students in communities across the disciplines.

NCWAC Inaugural Summit, July 12-15, 2012, Santa Fe, NM

2012 NCWAC Summit Program

The objectives for the 2012 NCWAC Summit are as follows:

  • Constitute the NCWAC vision/mission (goals/objectives) statement;
  • Articulate and define the NCWAC organizational structure;
  • Draft the NCWAC Intellectual statement w/ professional guidelines for scholars of community literacy and their institutions;
  • Establish the terms/benefits of NCWAC membership as well as a plan for developing a membership directory;
  • Develop a plan for implementing the NCWAC resource website.

Informing approaches to those objectives are the following overarching goals of the Consortium:

  • Promote deliberative democratic practice in the public sphere and community literacy projects;
  • Advocate for culturally-relevant, linguistically-informed approaches to literacy education for historically-underserved student populations;
  • Promote curriculum development for Writing Across Communities approaches to First Year Writing, WAC programs, Writing Centers, etc.
  • Mentor graduate students and junior faculty (graduate school through tenure) so as to make it safe and feasible for them to do the scholarly work of community literacy;
  • Promote resource-sharing and collaborative scholarly projects between faculty and graduate students across institutions.

Michelle Hall Kells is Associate Professor of English, UNM WAC Program Chair, and Faculty Advisor for the Writing Across Communities Alliance.
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Brian Hendrickson is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing at UNM, Secretary of the National Consortium of Writing Across Communities, and UNM Writing Across Communities Alliance President and Events Coordinator.