In this interview with Cox, Melzer, and Galin, Thomas Polks asks the authors of Sustainable WAC about the formation of AWAC, how they developed the Whole Systems Theory for sustainable WAC programs, their current thinking about WAC leadership, and what is next for the WAC movement and AWAC.
Published a year after Sustainable WAC (2018), Michelle Cox and Jeffrey Galin set out to clarify and further refine what has proven the book’s biggest “stumbling block” (p. 39): sustainability indicators (SIs). In this article, Cox and Galin claim that while SIs provide a useful heuristic for all WAC program leaders, they may not require assessment until later in a WAC program’s history. Further, they clarify the following aspects of the use of SIs: the identification of “proto-SIs” during the Understand stage, the process of working with a group of stakeholders to identify and assess SIs, and the use of the Drive-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) heuristic, which we had formerly discussed for creating SIs but have come to understand as a useful heuristic later in the process of WAC program development. Throughout the article, they draw on their own experiences using the WSA as program directors. This article would be fruitful to read alongside Peters (2019) and Galin (2021).
This article explores the whole systems approach (WSA) (Cox, Galin, & Melzer, 2018) by following the launch of a Writing across the Curriculum program at Texas A&M-San Antonio (TAMUSA), a university at which one of the authors, Jeffrey Galin, was consulting and mentoring the WAC director, Katherine Bridgeman. This article provides a concise overview of the WSA, as well as examples that show how this approach works in context, including an image of a whiteboard that displays a mapping of WAC in relation to writing activities on campus completed by the TAMUSA WAC committee (p. 70), a network map of TAMUSA’s WAC program (p. 72), sample sustainability indicators that show TAMUSAs WAC program in distress (p. 78), and an email from Jeff as WAC consultant that prompted Katherine to think of WAC as “the introduction of transformative change for the curriculum on your campus” (p. 83), an email that ultimately persuaded the WAC Committee to implement a four-course WI curriculum (p. 83). This article complements Sustainable WAC by showing how the WSA may be applied on one campus.
Building on Porter et al.’s call for institutional theorizing and critique at the system level, in this article Melzer argues that Critical Systems Thinking (CST) is a useful methodology to understand, critique, and transform campus writing programs. CST focuses on changing the structures and ideologies of an entire system through locating points of leverage where even small changes will affect the entire system, moving it from isolation to liberation. Melzer uses the example of transformations to the campus writing program at his former institution to illustrate the systems methodology, and he ends the article with advice for applying CST to campus writing programs across institutional contexts.