ASLE Public Writing and Civic Engagement Workshops

Updated 3/3/2021

Amid overlapping social and ecological crises, ASLE seeks to further members’ efforts to engage meaningfully and effectively with public audiences. We conducted two virtual workshop opportunities in January and February 2021 to learn with members deeply engaged in public work.

The goals were to to identify, develop, and enhance public communication skills. Workshop series goals included:

  • building the capacity of ASLE members for doing public engagement;
  • elevating the work of public writing and public engagement by ASLE members;
  • strengthening relations among a community of practitioners in public EH.

Workshops were 60 minutes in length, with an optional 20-minute informal “deepen the conversation” time at the end; include interactive breakouts and moderated discussion; and took place on Zoom.

George Handley: Friday January 29, 1-2pm EST

This workshop discusses the “why” of public engagement, as well as some suggestions for finding the right register, tone, and vocabulary to reach diverse and local audiences beyond the academy. Handley shares some thoughts about how this process has actually changed and deepened his own scholarship and teaching in a feedback loop, and emphasizes the importance of speaking to other people’s core values rather than merely to our own.

George B. Handley is Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities and Associate Director of the Faculty Center at Brigham Young University; his latest book is the novel American Fork.  He lives in Utah and currently serves on the Provo City Council, and has experience in public speaking and writing for the public on environmental values.

A recording is below.  (Note: some introductory notes and slides were not recorded, but are available in this PDF: George Handley Introductory Remarks).

Anthony Lioi: Friday, February 26, 1-2pm EST

This workshop focuses on the letter to the editor as a tool that can be used to influence local and regional politics. Lioi reviews the strict requirements of the form, including the voice of the concerned voter, research, demand for action, and word count. He discusses the way in which the letter must be targeted to particular newspapers and the politicians or groups of politicians who hold decision-making power over the problem at hand. He also outlines the way groups of letter writers should work together over time to achieve specific goals, and how these groups can leverage social media once letters are published.

Anthony Lioi is Professor of Liberal Arts and English at Juilliard and author of Nerd Ecology: Defending the World With Unpopular Culture. He lives in New Jersey, and is involved with a letter to the editor project with a focus on immigrant rights and anti-ICE activism at the county level.

recording is below.


In addition, check out Mika Kennedy’s new feature, “So You Want to Publish an Academic Article: 5 Essential Things to Keep in Mind“, in which she summarizes Lioi’s excellent advice to graduate students.