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Prospects and boundaries: Productive tensions in the establishing process of a university-wide language and writing center.

Conference contribution
Authors Ann-Marie Eriksson
Published in European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW) conference, Royal Holloway University in Egham (London), UK. 19-21 June. (session 4:A)
Publication year 2017
Published at Unit for Academic Language
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Learning, Pedagogical Work


The initiation of an academic writing and language center as a university-wide operation undoubtedly signifies an important policy step and institutional action. As the theme of this conference makes clear, such actions take place in response to societal changes and social realities which in turn produce changing conditions for higher education. However, support for students’ academic writing is often not called for until new conditions for teaching have already resulted in increased demands regarding student literacy and writing capacities. The initial stages of a newly established center therefore involves attending to immediate needs while simultaneously prioritizing the development of responsible and durable forms of provision. The process of establishing such provision has repeatedly been found to rely on arduous navigation among multiple stakeholders’ interests. Given that diverse textual practices and writing traditions are carried forward by means of concrete tutoring and teaching, the establishing process also implies significant professional processes on the level of individual staff. This presentation focuses concrete tensions produced as institutional and individual levels intersect during a writing center establishing process currently taking place at University of Gothenburg. With 37,000 students and eight different Schools, this university exemplifies a large governmental research institution in the Nordic region. By tracing the history of what was initially termed academic language support in this institution and then illustrating initiatives currently being delivered in response to increased internationalisation and diversification, the goal is to discuss: By what types of strategies can writing and language centers respond to and impact university culture?

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