Mining the Prospects of Community Literacy: A Tentative Model for University-Community Collaboration
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The social tensions between the Waco community and Baylor University, often ill-perceived, are complicated. While the university is a place that fosters a sense of community among its students, there is still a disparity between the university and surrounding Waco community. Both the university and the community have taken measures to increase collaboration and connection between the two, in order to address social issues within the community, such as poverty and educational needs. My thesis explores the role of community literacy in bridging social disparity, specifically its role in community improvement in Waco. Rhetoric scholars Higgins, Flowers, and Long define community literacy as a way to expand our understanding and use of rhetorical practices in the public realm, in a way that crosses boundaries and leads to community improvement. In my thesis, I draw upon and outline studies by scholars in rhetoric and composition who have researched the benefits of service-learning and community literacy in the classroom, as well as in the community. These studies discuss community literacy and present various models of university-community collaboration, in which service-learning and community literacy are used as means for social change. I then present my primary research on the perceived areas of improvement in the Waco community, and present my proposal for a tentative model of university-community collaboration that specifically aligns with the needs and goals of both the Waco community and Baylor University.