Nearly twenty years ago, Ernest Boyer (1991) encapsulated his dream of the engaged university in an article called "Creating the New American College." Boyer envisioned an interdisciplinary movement of scholars working with one another, their students, and community partners to produce socially relevant knowledge that would, more than anything, create a better world for all of us. Who is better able, he wondered, to create and convey knowledge for the public good than a university, with its central location of various resources: the latest technologies; infinite fountains of intellectual energy; and its continually self-renewing populations of eager, ambitious young people? He sought the gradual demise of what might be called the disengaged university, in which individual faculty retain allegiance to, and produce esoteric knowledge within, sharply distinguished discipline-silos with indifferent relationships to the public good. Essentially, Boyer and like-minded scholars imagined creating universities whose central missions would be to build the beloved community. In the ensuing years, terms such as "civic engagement," "service-learning," and "engaged scholarship" have found an enduring place within academic discourses, and perhaps an increasing number of people have come to accept David Maurrassee's (2001) argument that "the fate of communities is the fate of higher education" (p. 5).Yet, it is reasonable to ask how much closer, in practical terms, academe has actually moved toward reinventing itself as the New American College, and what it will take to get us the rest of the way. Will engaged scholarship ever receive full institutional support throughout the academic establishment, encompassing the ranges of two to four-year schools, rural to urban, and liberal arts to research-one universities, or will it remain a relatively marginalized practice of a relatively devoted few? For the true believers, the value of engagement is self-evident: they perceive students learning more and better, in cooperation with community partners. Supporters of engagement also perceive surrounding communities benefitting from the work of the university, and vice versa, when both sides create knowledge together, rather than maintaining an uneasy coexistence of mutual apathy or, in some cases, the outright antagonism engendered by gentrification and raucous fraternity parties. But what about the engagement skeptics? What must be done to convince them that engagement is the proper way forward for the academy? Questions such as these lie at the heart of Ann Feldman's book, Making Writing Matter: Composition in the Engaged University, the product of a scholar who has worked pragmatically to overcome many of the institutional hurdles that represent the gap between today's American College and Boyer's New American College. For these reasons, engaged teachers in general, but teachers of engaged writing in particular, will find this book both inspiring and sobering. A faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for more than twenty-five years, Feldman is fighting the good fight to promote engagement, and her successes include the development of the Chicago Civic Leadership Certificate Program (CCLCP), a course sequence within UIC's writing program that allows students to experience writing as a situated practice in participation with community partners. One hopes that CCLCP can become one of many models that influences college presidents and chancellors who are coming around to the notion that engaged scholarship merits institutional support.
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