2020 SWCA Conference Call for Proposals

Growing Our Centers


  • October 25: Proposals due
  • November 8: Applications for scholarships due
  • February 20-22: Conference!


Birmingham, AL

Host Institution

University of Alabama-Birmingham 

Conference Chair

Jaclyn Wells (wellsj@uab.edu) 

Writing center stories are dominated by themes of growth: growth in usage, growth in space, growth in institutional profile. We also talk about our students in terms of growth: in what ways do they need to grow, how do we support that growth, and how do we measure it? Finally, our field is ever growing, with small groups of like-minded writing professionals growing into a robust field with its own journals, organizations, and conferences.

Birmingham is also growing. Every day, the “Magic City” sees a new neighborhood expanding, a new brewery opening, and a new development project or organization in the news. An ever-growing urban university, the University of Alabama-Birmingham has grown along and within Birmingham, seemingly always expanding its reach deep into the city—always a new building, a new and bigger and better club, event, or program, the biggest ever freshman class!

In cities and universities, disciplines and writing centers, students and teachers, growth is exciting. But, we must grow sustainably, responsibly, and reflectively. Further, we must find ways to measure our growth effectively, questioning not just how much we are growing but also how well: is this growth positive, is it productive, is it helpful? Are we reporting and even celebrating our growth in productive ways? Finally, what are the potential downsides of growth? Is scaling back ever the better option?

In the growing, bustling city of Birmingham, and specifically, in the growing urban campus of UAB, we will meet to reflect on ideas of growth: the growth of our centers, our field, our students, and even ourselves. Growth is exciting and important—no wonder it dominates so many of our narratives!—but growth narratives should not go unchallenged, nor should we assume that growth is a natural byproduct of our hard work or something that outside stakeholders will automatically see or appreciate. At UAB, we will meet to question: How do we create goals for productive growth, how do we support productive growth, and how do we measure, report, and even celebrate growth?

Topics to Explore

Submissions may explore growth as it relates to the following areas:

Student Writers

  • Developing interventions for helping students grow as writers
  • Helping students identify goals for growing as writers
  • Negotiating with students’ priorities for writerly growth
  • Measuring writing growth in students
  • Supporting writing growth in all students (from different backgrounds, disciplines, abilities, identities, etc.)

Writing centers

  • Identifying sustainable goals for writing center growth
  • Measuring and reporting writing center growth
  • Expanding the writing center’s physical and online spaces
  • Developing and growing partnerships with on-campus and off-campus groups
  • Expanding and improving writing center services
  • Gaining resources and funding
  • Overcoming barriers to growth
  • Sustaining and reevaluating growth

Writing center staff (including tutors, administrators, office and front desk staff, etc.)

  • Increasing and/or diversifying a writing center staff
  • Helping writing center staff develop their abilities
  • Creating and expanding training opportunities
  • Reflecting on growth as a writing center tutor
  • Growing professionally as a writing center director
  • Developing and growing a writing center research agenda

Writing center discipline

  • Growing our field
  • Fostering partnerships in the region and beyond
  • Developing a greater body of writing center research

Presentation Formats

We invite proposals for sessions in the following formats:

  • Individual presentations (15 min)
  • panels/roundtables (60 min)
  • ignite presentations (5 minutes)
  • poster presentations

Note: New to the SWCA conference this year, ignite presentations offer presenters the opportunity to briefly share their work. Each 60-minute ignite session will include only six five-minute presentations, so presenters will get ample time to discuss their work with attendees. The ignite format may provide a great option for those who wish to share and discuss focused projects and/or in-progress work!


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