The (Inter)National WAC Conferences

The first three National WAC conferences, held in February 1993, 1995, and 1997 in Charleston, South Carolina, were sponsored by Clemson University, the College of Charleston, and the Citadel. The conference then moved to bi-annual summer conferences sponsored by campuses throughout the US and involved international WAC leaders more prominently over the years (shifting to meeting in even-numbered years in 2002). Marty Townsend (2020) has provided a detailed history of the conference in an edited collection that emerged from the 2018 IWAC conference. In her discussion of the origins of the conference, Townsend points to Art Young as a key figure in the origins and development of the conference:

WAC conferences began in 1993 in Charleston with the support of Art Young, one of WAC's foremost founders, scholars, and practitioners. Young, then a professor of both English and Engineering at Clemson University, was in Charleston to consult for Angela Williams at The Citadel and Sylvia Gamboa at College of Charleston, both of whom "were making a major commitment to WAC." . . . Gamboa had been asked to "start a WAC program . . . to help evaluate writing across the disciplines." Having neither a WAC background nor a budget to travel to other programs, she "pushed for a conference in Charleston to bring WAC information there." Young took the idea back to Clemson, where Carl Lovitt was directing the Pearce Center for Professional Communication, with the suggestion that Lovitt help them organize it. . . . Lovitt, Gamboa, and Williams' goals were straightforward: to bring together practitioners in WAC and CXC (Communication across the Curriculum) and offer a forum for exchange of best practices." The first two conferences saw no emphasis on research or assessment, but participant feedback in 1995 indicated strong interest, and by the 1997 conference, research on WAC programs, especially in assessment, was added. By the time of the third in 1997, the attendance had grown so large—some 750—the three-way consortium had begun looking for a new host to take over. (p. 25)

Townsend notes that the shift from a "national" to an "international" conference began in 2004, when it was held at the University of Missouri, and was codified in 2006, after the 2004 conference had shown the existence of strong interest in WAC among members of the international writing studies community.

Since 2002, the conference has been held every other year, with past conference directors serving as a committee that selects the new conference director and then provides advice and oversight as the conference is planned. In late 2018, following the formation of the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum (see below), the IWAC conference hosts voted to affiliate with the new organization. The 2020 conference marks the first conference held under the auspices of the Association.

Archives for the conference can be found on the WAC Clearinghouse, beginning with the 2006 conference (see Efforts are underway to increase the amount of materials available from the earlier conferences.

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