Events / Annual IWCA Conference


IWCA 2018: The Citizen Center

Conference: October 10-13, 2018
Location: Atlanta, GA
Conference Chair:
 Nikki Caswell

Nearly 20 years ago, Nancy Grimm (1999) challenged writing center professionals “to hold ourselves responsible for changing the cultural practices, the institutional conditions, the unconscious habits that contribute to structural oppression” (Good Intentions, 108). Writing center scholars (such as Geller, et al., 2007; Greenfield & Rowan, 2011; Denny, 2010; Ozias & Godbee, 2011; Blazer, 2015) have taken up Grimm’s call to challenge the power structures and cultural forces shaping writing center work. Yet, writing centers remain sites marked by race, power, oppression, and privilege (Garcia, 2017). While writing center professionals continue to ask how we can diversify our staffs, serve minoritized students, and create safe(r) or brave spaces, we don’t always reflect on the structural oppression built into our writing centers. We need more diversity in the bodies, voices, languages, and books within our writing centers and writing center research.

One way writing centers might respond to Grimm’s and others’ calls is through modeling active citizenship. Originating in Student Affairs scholarship, the Active Citizen Continuum focuses on creating learning experiences that cultivate active citizens for whom “community becomes a priority in values and life choices” (“Break Away”). Active citizenship asks us to recognize communication, compassion, and vulnerability as key components to understanding perspectives different from our own, and it would encourage writing center professionals to engage in local and national social action to effect positive change in their communities and world. Effective communication skills are central to writing center work and writing centers are well-situated to foster informed debates around power, race, sexuality, ability, class, gender and other embodied identities that can change campus culture. However, much of this hyper-local work goes unacknowledged and underexplored at our conferences.

Thus, we invite you to join us in Atlanta, Georgia, a city with a rich civil rights history, to reflect on how writing center professionals can engage in active citizenship and social justice work and to wonder with us: how might writing center professionals reframe our work through a lens of active centership? How might we actively engage the calls to action that Grimm and others have placed before us? What are we doing in our tutoring sessions, our mission statements, our tutor education, and our campus impact work that demonstrates our active citizenship? What is the role of writing centers regarding social justice work? Our 2018 conference is a timely opportunity to come together to critically examine what we are already doing well and how we can do better.

We invite proposals that consider:

Centership: What would active centership, tutorship, or directorship look like? How are we already doing this work? What models exist in our scholarship? How do our students serve as active citizens of their writing centers and their campus communities? How do writing centers respond to politically charged events? What critiques do writing center professionals open themselves up to by participating in active centership?

Responsibilities: What responsibilities do writing center professionals have to engage in social justice work? What are the responsibilities of 21st century writing centers as institutions and within institutions? What are the responsibilities of administrators? Of tutors? How do writing center professionals help cultivate communities of responsible, informed writers and responders?

Engagement: What is the role of community within writing centers? How do we participate and engage with our local, campus communities? What programs are writing centers already doing that promote active centership? How do we prepare tutors for community engagement or social justice work? What threats might exist when writing center professionals work beyond their spaces? What are the individual and institutional barriers or challenges to this work?

Research: How do our research and assessment processes foster or limit social justice work? How do we make spaces for diverse bodies, voices, and languages to produce writing center scholarship? How might our research better include diverse bodies, voices, and languages? What theories and frames can support social justice research? How do we study our communities to inform our active centership?

Session Formats
The 2018 IWCA Conference consists primarily of 75-minute concurrent sessions. Participants may propose one
of the following types of presentation:
• Panel Presentation: 3 to 4 presentations of 15-20 minutes each on a specific theme or question.
• Individual Presentation: 15-20 minute presentation (that will be combined into a panel by the program chair).
• Workshop: A participatory session that engages attendees in active learning.
• Roundtable Discussion: 15 minutes of introductory framing by the leader(s), followed by a facilitated discussion among attendees.
• Special Interest Groups: Strategic conversations led by colleagues who have similar interests, institutional settings, or identities.
• Ignite Presentation: A 5-minute presentation composed of 20 images each lasting 15 seconds
• Poster Presentation: A research-fair style presentation in which the presenter(s) create a poster to shape their discussion with attendees.
• Works-in-Progress: Roundtable discussions where presenters briefly (5-10 minutes) discuss one of their current (in progress) writing center research projects and then receive feedback.


Visit the IWCA Members website to register. Early registration is $175 for students and $275 for professionals. After July 1, registration will increase to $200/300.

Hotel Reservations

The Sheraton Atlanta will be the conference hotel. The standard rate will be $185 single/double, $205 triple, and $225 quad. The group rate is available through September 7.

Register through the StarGroups weblink ( or by phone (1 800-833-8624).

Contact Dr. Nikki Caswell (, IWCA 2018 Conference Chair, for any additional information.