CFP: CWPA 2017 Annual Conference and Institutes, Knoxville, TN

To submit a proposal:

Call For Proposals
Solving Problems Together: Agency and Advocacy in an Age of Austerity

In their edited collection, Composition in the Age of Austerity, Nancy Welch and Tony Scott assert that our cherished rhetorical ideals—favoring bridge-building, mediation, and problem-solving by the wily, can-do WPA—and increasingly disembodied and dematerialized critical theories leave the field insufficiently prepared to respond to austerity measures and vulnerable to new entrepreneurial schemes that threaten to dissolve existing connections between scholarly research and pedagogy. (7)

This issues both a challenge and an opportunity to our WPA work: How can the collective work of this “wily, can-do” bunch at once respond to the day-to-day challenges in higher education (as we always have) while also advancing our mission in the most equitable way possible? The effects of austerity are wide-ranging and often unequal. They often affect inordinately the most vulnerable populations; they can take the compromises we often must make into discomforting areas; and they can pit our natural tendency to make more with less against our willingness to ask for what we need to do our work both well and ethically. 

But we are stronger as an organization than we are as isolated administrators.

For that reason, we hope you will join us for important conversations that can help the organization and its members to respond to these challenges. Your contributions will help us to use our scholarly learning to solve the problems we face together. We hope (and expect) that you will leave this conference with new ideas, new strategies, and new alliances that will make our shared work more possible, even in an age of austerity. 

So, the CWPA is happy to issue three related invitations:

  • Invitation 1: Please join us at CWPA 2017 to add your voice to this conversation about agency and advocacy.

CWPA is eager to welcome those who participate in "writing program administration" writ large. This includes work at 2- and 4 year institutions as well as at other locations that support literacy education. It also includes work at multiple sites within those institutions: writing centers; first-year writing programs; professional and technical writing programs; community writing programs and collaborations with secondary schools; ESL writing programs; WAC and WID programs; institutional assessment programs; multi-modal programs; and many other places where writing instruction happens.

  • Invitation 2: Propose a presentation or session that helps us to think broadly about the challenges and opportunities of our age of austerity.

If Nancy Welch and Tony Scott are correct in their claims that the changes we are seeing are “not temporary, but permanent” and that composition has served as “canary in the coal mine for a wider scale restructuring of higher education,” broad thinking is called for.  So, you might consider proposal topics such as (but definitely not limited to) these:

  • What groups are most likely to suffer in an age of austerity? Which will most benefit?
  • What successes have been achieved in gathering resources for the work of our programs and the administration of those programs? How were those successes achieved?
  • How does our age of austerity also effect those in our communities, and how can community-based learning help to ameliorate those effects or to create community advocates and activists?
  • What funding sources exist both within and outside of our institutions? How have you, or might we, work to access those funds?
  • What kinds of WAC/WID and other non-FYC initiatives can play a role in current methods of literacy education? 
  • How has the role of the Writing Center changed in the current age? What new pressures (completion and retention initiatives, budget issues, etc.) are emerging? What new opportunities?
  • Where are the lines of ethical decision making? How does addressing day-to-day utilitarian needs, or the needs of students, support or conflict with the decisions we face?
  • What labor issues are exacerbated in our age of austerity? Have we found models for addressing those issues ethically?  For resisting further abuses of labor?
  • How have issues related to the “completion agenda,” retention and admission, competency-based education, student swirl, and other external forces impacted curricular efforts, and what creative solutions have we developed to address those exigencies?
  • In what ways can program assessment support our goals? In what ways might it challenge or undermine that work?
  • What kinds of data do we have, and what kinds of data do we lack, to help us do the work of program administration?
  • How has the age of austerity impacted our personal and professional lives as WPAs?
  • What further challenges face new, non-tenured, non-tenure track, and contingent WPAs?
  • What advocacy work might the CWPA take on in this age of austerity?
  • What frames can help us examine our work in important ways? For example, would the frames of intersectionality, assemblage, belonging, inclusion, and/or diversity help us rethink assumptions about WPA work?
  • What classroom innovations can be supported by WPAs and other administrators that align our pedagogical practices with changing institutional missions?
  • How does the changing demographics of our students offer challenges and opportunities for programmatic and administrative action?
  • How can our writing programs become more consciously transnational?  In this era of austerity, can programs be transnational without being neoliberal?
  • What resources are necessary to move programs beyond monolinguilist orientations? 
  • What flashpoints between research-driven initiatives and market-driven imperatives have you experienced and how have you responded to them?
  • How can we give voice to insights of the teachers that work within our program, but who are not directly involved with disciplinary organizations?


  • Invitation 3: Help us build interactive and goal-oriented sessions, sessions that will equip participants for action at their home institutions.

We ask your help in developing sessions that re-envision our annual conference as collective problem-solving, that make individual sessions as rich as the conversations we all have over dinner or in the lobby.  Members have asked for this approach, and your leadership team is happy to respond to this call for an interactive conference.  After all, we convene to spend time with those with whom we share the same opportunities and challenges.

While we still value and will support more traditional delivery of scholarly work, we ask that you consider innovative forms of delivery that will help us create a truly interactive conference. We call upon you to combine our rich scholarship (what we know) with practical, administrative tricks-of-the-WPA-trade (what we do). That is, we invite proposals that respond to Welch and Scott’s call to reactivate the connections between scholarly research and pedagogy.  And to that, we are adding an explicit connection to the administrative work that defines our organization.

So, we ask that you develop formats for sessions will be interactive and participatory, and which will make the audience’s knowledge and experience as important as that of the presenters.

Can you help us make that kind of experience? Here’s how:



You can propose up to two speaking roles, whether an institute and a conference presentation or two conference presentations.

A. Conference Proposals

We are happy to accept both individual and full-session proposals as follows:

1. 15-minute individual presentations

Presenters may submit individual paper or presentation proposals; these will be combined into panels/sessions of three or four speakers on the program.

While we value the traditional delivery of scholarship, we ask that you consider one of the interactive formats described below (or create your own). We will match you with other presenters whose topic and format mesh well with yours. We’ll also try to put you in touch with fellow presenters in advance of the conference to help you plan delivery techniques.

2. Full session Proposals

You may submit a proposal for a session with groups of 3 or more presenters/facilitators. We encourage you to consider innovative, interactive delivery methods.


Below are some heuristics to help you to think differently about the way we might spend time together.  But we are certain that this creative group will come up with others as well.  For example, you could:

  • Develop a session that briefly describes a problem you faced, what you did to address it, and what results you achieved. Then invite discussion, critique, and creative, collaborative problem-solving so that participants leave with new approaches for work on their campus. 
  • Develop interactive debates on key issues facing the profession that can then be widened to include audience participation.  Perhaps begin with short position statements and then open to audience questions and comments.
  • Present a scenario that surfaces a challenge that you are currently facing, provides background information and your initial impulses for addressing the challenge, and then calls for group problem-solving on that challenge. Feel free to create full session proposals from a set of similar issues faced on different campuses.
  • Choose a key topic, and develop a series of short, rapid-fire presentations (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, PechaKucha-style) with 4 - 6 presenters, leaving plenty of time for audience discussion. 
  • Develop a poster presentation designed for a gallery walk rather than for oral presentations.  You could either work with a group to develop a full session with 4 – 6 posters, or propose an individual poster presentation, and we will form sessions on related topics. We will provide a regular conference slot for these sessions.
  • Briefly describe research-in-process with the goal of audience suggestions and feedback. This will give scholars the chance to share ideas, provide suggestions, and/or even form collaborative research teams for cross-institutional research.  You could even propose a research project on which you are in the early stages, and ask for attendance for others who may wish to join with you on the project.
  • Develop an interactive seminar on a WPA technique that you have learned. You might help participants learn more topics such as: collecting data that can help to advocate for resources; creating graphics to display assessment findings; using pertinent tools and technologies for budget development; technologies for empirical research; methods for focus groups or interviews; developing IRB applications and ethical practices for human subjects research; creating interactive curriculum development or assessment sessions; garnering publicity for your programs’ work; doing advocacy work in the community; developing outreach centers or initiatives. Whatever the topic, the goal should be to share effective WPA practices that go beyond the things we learn as scholars of our discipline.

B. Proposing a Pre-Conference Institute (Thursday)

In the spirit of welcoming a range of voices and perspectives, and because of the success of last year’s Institutes, we once again invite proposals for full-day pre-conference institutes. We will offer three institutes on the program. Institutes are interactive and practical spaces for WPAs to learn about topics such as program assessment, preparing for the job market, conducting administrative research, working with various student populations, writing grant proposals, writing as a WPA, leading effective professional development activities in a writing program (to name a few).


At the 2017 CWPA conference, we will feature three strands of sessions, and you can indicate your desire to be featured in one of the strands in your proposal:

A. Mentoring Strand Sessions

A strand of sessions at the 2017 conference in Knoxville will again be devoted to professional development and mentoring issues. If you are submitting a proposal in any format to talk about mentoring (broadly defined), please indicate so in the proposal; it will be directed to Joe Janangelo, chair of the CWPA Mentoring Project, for review. Also feel encouraged to email to let him know that you have submitted a proposal intended for the mentoring strand. For more details, please visit the CWPA Mentoring Project on the CWPA website.

B. People of Color Caucus Sessions

CWPA's People of Color Caucus will offer a strand of sessions at the 2017 conference devoted to issues of racial and ethnic diversity in writing program administration related to scholars, teachers, students, and administrators of color. If you are submitting a proposal in any format that relates to issues appropriate for this strand, please indicate so in the proposal; it will be directed to Genevieve Garcia de Mueller, chair of the CWPA POC Caucus, for review. Also feel encouraged to email to let her know that you have submitted a proposal intended for the POC Caucus strand.

C. Two-Year College Caucus Sessions

CWPA's Two-Year College Caucus will offer a strand of sessions at the 2017 conference devoted to topics related to, involving, and discussing the contexts of two-year colleges. If you are submitting a proposal in any format that relates to issues appropriate for this strand, please indicate so in the proposal; it will be directed to Daniel Cleary, chair of the CWPA Two-Year College Caucus, for review. Also feel encouraged to email to let him know that you have submitted a proposal intended for the Two-Year College Caucus strand.


We will begin to receive submissions for conference sessions (individual or group) as well as proposals for Institutes for the 2017 conference on November 15, 2016. Visit: at that time to submit a proposal.


  • Final Deadline for Institute Proposals: January 1, 2017
  • Expedited review deadline for Conference Proposals:  January 1, 2017
  • Final deadline for Conference Proposals: March 1, 2017:

Attending WPA 2017 in Knoxville:  More information about WPA 2017 will be available soon, but for advance planning, below are some dates, descriptions, and ways to get more information:



There are three parts to the annual conference that you might participate in:

●The pre-conference Workshop for writing program administrators (July 16-19) with workshop leaders Jessie Moore (Elon University), Sheila Carter-Tod (Virginia Tech), Heidi Estrem (Boise State), and Mark Blaauw-Hara (North Central Michigan College). We will once again offer two workshops this year to allow for ample access.

●The pre-conference Institutes (July 20). As piloted successfully last year, instead of pre-determining the three institutes we will offer, we invite proposals for full-day institutes on topics of relevance for WPAs. See proposal information below.

●The Conference (July 20-23): we invite proposals for full panels, individual presentations, and interactive workshops as part of the conference schedule. See proposal information below.

For local Knoxville, TN, questions email: Kirsten Benson at

For CWPA proposal questions email: Dominic DelliCarpi at