Imagine and Innovate: Navigating Uncertainty in Writing Centers

Virtual Conference (Zoom Web Platform)
27-28 May 2021

Deadline for Submissions: closed

Organised by the Middle East – North Africa Writing Center Alliance (MENAWCA)


Over the last year, writing centers have had to reimagine their practice and develop innovative solutions to complex problems. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, writing center support has largely moved online, and practitioners have had to develop new procedures and protocols with little prior notice, and in some cases, overnight. Despite sudden and dramatic changes to the educational landscape, MENA writing centers have stayed true to their core principles and committed to best practice. One year on, MENAWCA invites the regional writing center community to reflect on this experience and make purposeful use of it moving forward.

MENAWCA’s 7th biennial conference is a platform for teachers, tutors, peer tutors, center directors, and other professionals supporting student writers in the MENA region, to share the innovative practices they have explored in the past year and report on their efficacy. This year’s virtual conference aims to discuss theoretical and practical perspectives related to themes of imagination and innovation, in the context of the disruption and uncertainty brought about by the global pandemic. We invite proposals that reflect the conference theme with specific reference to the MENA context. Questions to consider include:

  • In an online environment, how can writing centers build community between students, tutors, faculty and other members of the institution?
  • What resources were available to writing professionals to assist with the sudden, and in some cases, total transition to online tutoring? How adaptable were these resources to your particular multicultural and multilingual contexts?
  • How can writing centers support the emotional and mental wellbeing of students and staff? In what ways might writing centers partner with other institutional units to provide holistic support to students and staff?
  • To what extent has the recent acceleration of digital communication caused writing centers and writing programs to re-imagine their objectives and practices in relation to multi-modal composition?
  • With budget cuts looming, how can writing centers sustain themselves? How can they promote their work and show relevance to an institution’s educational mission?
  • How might changes of the past year influence the future direction of writing centers? What role will online support play? Is there a need to develop new procedures and practices for asynchronous and synchronous sessions, or other modes of online support?
  • Are there any practices adopted during the past year that need to be rethought, reworked or discontinued? Has the need to innovate conflicted with best practice? Is continual innovation a sustainable model for writing centers, or does it present a risk of overextension?
  • Research strand: MENAWCA is committed to fostering writing-related research activity in the region and providing a forum for researchers to network and collaborate. Proposals for sessions reporting on research studies carried out at an undergraduate, postgraduate or professional level, specific to the MENA region, are strongly encouraged.

Session Formats

  1. Presentation: 1-2 presenters; 20 minutes including Q & A. This format can be lecture style, but presenters are encouraged to be interactive.
  2. Multi-presenter panel: 3 or more speakers; 35 minutes including Q & A. This format provides for structured discussion, e.g., choreographed roundtables, intentionally sequenced panels, or point-counterpoint discussions.
  3. Workshop: 45 minutes including Q & A
  4. Lightning Round: short, 5-minute presentations designed to highlight a single opportunity or issue.  Presenters will be scheduled in blocks and questions will be addressed at the end of each block.

Proposal Guidelines

  • Please submit proposals in the form of a session abstract (no longer than 100 words).
  • Be specific and clear about the focus and purpose of your session. No supplementary material will be accepted.
  • Proposals should respond directly to the conference theme (outlined above), foster constructive interaction and be of potential interest to a diverse group of conference attendees.

 Submitting Proposals

  • Proposal should be submitted online via this link: Session Proposal Form
  • You will be asked to submit a presenter bio description with your proposal (no longer than 50 words). Please ensure all information is accurate and up to date.
  • Submission deadline: 15th April 2021  29th April 2021
  • Presenters will be notified of acceptance by 29th April 2021  4th May 2021
  • Selected presenters must accept invitations and register for the conference by 15th May 2021. 

Conference Co-chairs

Sahar Mari, Texas A&M University at Qatar
Dr Inas Mahfouz, American University of Kuwait