NSights Blog

RSA project to engage questions of space, growth and community

Applications will be taken through Oct. 1 for working group ideas for these key topics

If you are like many of us and often walk through the Gateway Corridor south of campus, you may have noticed changes in the surrounding neighborhoods and environments. There is construction everywhere! Hopefully it hasn't interrupted your commute to campus too much, but we believe these happenings form an important opportunity to participate in ongoing conversations between the University and community.

Along with others in the English Department and across campus, we also believe we can make a difference when we engage in such conversations. This is why the University will host the first-ever RSA Project in Power, Place, and Publics in May 2019. We're excited to host a new type of engagement with RSA where we'll rhetorically analyze UNR's Campus Master Plan in eight working groups that will conduct field research activities with the help of community liaisons in the CMP area. The Project's keynote will be presented by John Ackerman (University of Colorado, Boulder), who has been pushing rhetoricians to be more critical and aware of the ways they are recruited to university "civic engagement" efforts.

We've also been working on these developing conversations in our own writing courses. Currently, some of our English Department faculty and graduate students are participating in these complex discussions about the impacts of current developments by designing courses and research projects around these issues.

Here are just some of the ways we have started to engage our students and communities: In Phil Goodwin's first-year undergraduate writing courses, students draw from cultural geography's concept of "contested space," and then produce multimodal projects that intervene in the debate by making visible the often invisible spaces around campus. In Fall 2016, Jim Webber designed a split-level topics writing course where students create similar projects. Students read contemporary scholarship on public engagement in Rhetoric and Composition and applied it to the local situation in order to develop formal proposals. These proposals address ways to build the capacity of the Campus Master Plan to engage its various publics around issues of growth, expansion, and community identity. We're already actively participating and we'd like you to get involved, too. Whether you're a graduate teaching assistant or faculty, our project has something for you.

The RSA Project's working groups seek to further engage with and add to the conversations between the university and community. These groups will be led by top scholars from the field of rhetoric--a discipline that studies the way communication affects community formation-- and will interact with the community in various ways. The project is open to all University graduate students and faculty (at a discounted rate)--along with those interested from other campuses.

Rhetoric@Reno is happy to be a sponsor of this event. We're the graduate student chapter at the University for RSA, a national organization of scholars and teachers in every discipline who are interested in rhetoric. Rhetoric@Reno provides a forum to gather as rhetoricians and welcomes students from all disciplinary backgrounds. Because we value civic engagement, we think this project offers unique opportunities for academic and community collaboration.

So, how can you get involved you ask?

Submit an application to the project by October 1, 2018; You'll receive notification of working group selection by the end of December and registration begins January 1st. Check out the RSA Project 2019 website for more details. And consider joining Rhetoric@Reno if you're a graduate student interested in projects like these.

Alison Moore and Eric Lehman, Co-Presidents of Rhetoric@Reno

Follow us on Twitter (@renorhetoric) & stop by our website to find out more about us!

RSA Project website: https://www.unr.edu/english/rsa-project-2019

Allison Moore and Eric Lehman