I direct the Freshman English program, and I am currently talking with the Director of UAB’s Human Rights Institute about co-sponsoring a student writing exhibit called “Writing Rights.” This event would be a display style installation, with students sitting at tables and exhibiting their poster or multimedia projects to an audience of other students and faculty.
The event was originally planned as an exhibit of multimedia projects created by students in my EH 102 Science and Technology Honors course, entitled Rhetoric, Public Science, and Human Rights. However, most of our EH 102 courses provide students with the opportunity to pursue research topics on issues important to them and that often connect to human rights and social justice. In addition, many of these projects are multimedia presentations based on students academic research and academic writing conducted earlier in the term. In this sense, these projects lend themselves to an exhibit style display. This event would be a display style installation, with students sitting at tables and exhibiting their poster or multimedia projects to an audience of other students and faculty.
There are several key goals for this event. The first is to work with Freshman English teachers to infuse learning about global issues and human rights into the curriculum by encouraging students to research and write about these issues for a variety of different audiences and contexts. A second goal is to provide a real-world audience for student work, an audience that will both celebrate their accomplishments while also offering persepctives and ideas that can continue to shape their thinking on these issues. Finally, this event will hopefully provide the freshmen writers who present with a opportunities to make contacts with faculty across the disciplines who may encourage them and inform them about pathways for further study.
Having designed and coordinated a large showcase of student multimedia projects at my previous institution, The University of Arizona, for over 5 years, I can say that these showcases play an immense role in investing students both in their understanding of the issues they explore and in their understanding of themselves not simply as students but as writers. My hope for this event is that it will also invest students in future exploration of human rights and global education.