Important Note from IWCA President, John Nordlof (April 16th, 2020): After a discussion with the officers and a vote of the full board, we have postponed our fall conference scheduled this year for Vancouver in October. After working with the hotel, we were able to reschedule that event for October 2022. This means that our next on-the-ground fall conference will be in October 2021 in Baltimore.

Conference: October 14-17, 2020

Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Conference Chair: Lucie Moussu (

Conference Chair’s Assistant: Craig Peterson

Travel, Hotel, and Registration Information

IWCA 2020 Call for Papers 

The theme of “local mission; global vision” chosen for the first IWCA conference to be held outside of the U.S.A. continues the conference’s long-standing tradition of identifying and challenging borders and boundaries.

Borders and boundaries have always been of interest to researchers in writing-centre pedagogy.  Indeed, the importance of national boundaries was formally recognized in 1999, when the National Writing Center Association changed its name to the International Writing Center Association to better reflect its increasingly diverse membership (Simpson). The various themes of IWCA conferences from as early as 2005 illustrate our abiding concern with barriers that define us but also constrict us; phrases drawn from those past themes–navigating the boundary; space; alternate routes; safe harbors and open seas; draw and redraw boundaries; world; (r)Evolution; frontier—emphasize the liminality, transitional nature, fluidity, and courage of writing centre work. Often defined spatially by boundaries, workers in writing centres are conscious of the difference between being in-here and out-there. The classrooms and the rest of the campuses that house and surround us constitute a global space that our local mission aims to serve. We habitually think beyond the local, from lower to higher order concerns on a student’s essay, from a student’s written work to a student’s identity as a writer, from discipline-specific writing skills to universal ones.  Furthermore, we think of writing as a means to help students grow into global citizens, with wider interests than those focusing on the individual self (Lape). 

The broader mission of the 2020 conference is to impact global spaces by recognizing and challenging cultural, spatial, and social boundaries–those that separate individuals and groups based on differences between language, culture, distance, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, and class. In so doing, our conference continues the tradition of providing opportunities to reach out to one another and to overcome different boundaries that separate writing centres. As we continue to reach out to one another and to recognize and challenge boundaries, individual writing centres slowly converge, forming into a global presence with global concerns. The location of the 2020 IWCA conference in Canada gives us all an opportunity to reflect on how we, as an association, are now literally crossing a border. Join us to experience the singular collegiality of the IWCA for the first time in a country outside of the U.S.A. 

We thus invite you to think of the relationship between the local and the global and bring your ideas to the conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, a culturally diverse city of great natural beauty. We seek to gather ideas from near and far on how writing centres promote global citizenship while maintaining the local and regional hallmarks that make our centres unique. Our 2020 conference thus seeks papers and presentations that explore and propose ways in which individual writing centres can map routes from local missions as individual writing centres and step outside our localities toward partnering with one another in the project of defining a global vision and of ways of mapping it into reality.

Potential ways presenters can link to theme of local mission-global vision:

  • “Inclusion and respect for diversity” is an official policy of the Government of Canada.  It is also an underlying if not governing principle for many writing centres across the world. What strategies have been adopted by writing centres to welcome and serve better writers with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, languages, and gender identities? In what ways have (or can) writing centres promote and celebrate diversity with an aim toward creating a more global culture of inclusivity?
  • In what ways are writing centres challenged and in what ways are they empowered by their locations in physical space? What efforts have been undertaken to take ownership of writing-centre space, or to alter it, and to what end? Some have chosen to make their centres a more comforting place; others have opted for a plainer look. Some have had the fortune (or misfortune) to have had their centres relocated. What is the relationship between the local space of a writing centre and its global vision? How can one be used to enhance the other?
  • Despite being integrated into many aspects of campus and curricular life, writing centers often struggle to be seen as more than a small localized service, remote from such lofty concerns as research and scholarship. How are we working to create perceptions of writing centres that are more consistent with our self-perceptions as players with global reach?
  • Are there significant differences that characterize writing centres that operate in countries outside of the United States? What might they be and why do they exist? Do curricular traditions play a part in whether a country is likely to embrace writing centres within educational institutions? How can such differences as exist between writing centres of different nations be made to promote a global vision while carrying out their local missions?
  • Global Citizenship. Usually, students visit writing centres with very localized concerns: the quality of their particular piece of writing and the grade they’ll receive for it. Writing centres routinely encourage student visitors to think also beyond the locality of the written work to the process of writing and, further, to fostering an identity as a writer. Beyond this, writing centres are increasingly aware of the role they can play as advocates for global citizenship. What are some of the ways that writing centres are promoting this idea? How do we define global citizenship? How would you define your ideal global citizen?
  • Aboriginal Thinking and Writing Centres. In the United States, the term “Native American” is in common usage to describe Aboriginal peoples. In Canada, the term “Aboriginal” or “Indigenous” is generally preferred to “Native.” What strategies have been adopted by writing centers that operate within or are contiguous to Indigenous (or Native) land to serve (and learn from) Indigenous writers? How have (or how can) Indigenous ways of thinking be incorporated into writing centers in a way that celebrates diversity and Indigenous lifestyles while creating a more welcoming place for all discourses and experiences?
  • Writing Centres and Well Being. How do writing centres promote practices that not only help students become better writers, but also healthier ones? What strategies and ideas have writing centres adopted that envision students on a more holistic level? How can writing centres best support students, tutors, and administrators with physical and learning disabilities, and those with mental illnesses? What impact do stress, homesickness, abuse, discrimination, culture shock, violence, parenthood, and other “life events” have on student writing? What writing practices, encouraged and modeled in the writing centre, are specifically designed to promote health and well-being inside the writing centres but also, looking more globally, to the campus community as a whole?
  • “Liminal” in Latin means threshold, which might refer to a place between spaces but also to a time of transition from one state of being to another. What sort of thresholds operate in writing centres? Certainly the spatial one is important, and for some students crossing the threshold into the writing centre takes courage. But there are also other thresholds to consider, such as the transition from student to tutor, and from tutor to teacher or some other career path. How conscious are the writing centre as liminal space? What have we been doing in the writing centre to learn about the liminality of space we occupy? What research has been done to measure the effect of our transitional enterprise?

Session Formats:

The 2020 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 chairs).
  • 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.
  • Featured Presentation: individual 50-minute long presentation specifically highlighting one (or more) aspect of the conference theme.
  • 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-Process: Roundtable discussions where presenters briefly (5-10 minutes) discuss one of their current (in progress) writing center research projects and then receive feedback.
  • Something else: Concurrent sessions will be 75 minutes long; come up with something else that you can do in that time—present, perform, model, interact, etc.—and pitch your idea.

Contact Lucie Moussu ( for any additional information.