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Inventing a Profession: WAC History

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This collection is an informal history of the early years of the writing across the curriculum (WAC) movement, as cold by some of the people who made chat history. If you are reading chis, you probably already know chat the WAC movement is an effort co improve education by encouraging students to write in many fields (or content areas). What you may not know is chat the WAC movement is an extraordinary example of grassroots change in education. In 1984, when the WAC movement was 14 years old, I first started researching the history of attempts to improve students' writing across the curriculum, dating back to the beginnings of mass education in the waning years of the nineteenth century (Russell, Writing). What struck me most often and most forcefully in the early 1990s was chat the WAC movement had lasted longer-and involved far more students and teachers-than any previous attempt co improve writing across the curriculum-and there had been many, I found. Now, twenty years lacer, WAC may well be the largest and longest-lived educational reform movement in the history of American higher education chat did not develop a formal organizational structure-with the possible exception of the general education movement. How did chat happen?


This chapter is published as Russell, David R. " WAC’s Beginnings: Developing a Community of Change Agents." Inventing a Profession: WAC History . (ed. S. McLeod). Parlor Press, 2006 (3-15).

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Parlor Press



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