“Beyond Two Cultures” conference draws diverse presenters and visitors

Kathleen Blake Yancey presents during the 2014 Fifth International Writing and Critical Thinking Conference.
Kathleen Blake Yancey presents during the 2014 Fifth International Writing and Critical Thinking Conference.

Jan. 8, 2015 - More than 90 academic professionals from 15 U.S. states and two foreign countries attended  "Critical Thinking and Writing Beyond Two Cultures: STEM, WAC/WID, and the Changing Academy," held Nov. 21 and 22 in the Carl Hanson Student Center on the Mount Carmel Campus. The fifth biennial conference on critical thinking and writing was hosted by Quinnipiac University Writing Across the Curriculum (QUWAC) and the College of Arts and Sciences. The event featured  a remarkable diversity of  disciplinary perspectives, including biology, engineering, English, geography, health sciences, humanities, library science, mathematics, medicine, neuropsychology, nursing, sociology, social work, speech pathology, and writing. 

The conference opened on Friday with the publication of Volume 2 of Double Helix: A Journal of Critical Thinking and Writing, which features work on critical thinking and writing in the STEM disciplines. On Friday afternoon, QUWAC hosted a meeting of NEWACC (Northeast Writing Across the Curriculum Consortium). On Friday evening, Vaughan Turekian, Chief International Officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Director of AAAS's Center for Science Diplomacy, and Editor-in-Chief of Science Diplomacy, led an interactive conversation: "Science Diplomacy: Critical Thinking and Writing Across the Academy and the World."

Saturday morning began with a keynote address from Kathleen Blake Yancey, Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor of Florida State University, titled "Concepts and Practices in Flux: Critical Thinking and Writing Across the Disciplinary Cultures of the Academy." She focused on issues of transfer, the application of learning and problem-solving from one context and subject matter to another. She introduced practical strategies for helping students identify and make distinctions among disciplinary genres and ways of thinking, and thus facilitate their ability to think and write within and across disciplinary boundaries. Throughout the day, Yancey consulted with faculty from a variety of institutions.

The conference featured 30 panel presentations by 48 faculty professionals. Quinnipiac panelists included Tracy Hallstead (academic specialist, The Learning Commons), Adam Katz (first year writing), Melissa Kaplan (first year writing), Priscilla Fonseca (engineering), Anne Dropick (biomedical sciences), Donald Buckley (biology), Anna-leila Williams (medicine), Mark Hoffman (mathematics and computer science), Jeanne LeVasseur (nursing), Stacy Missari (sociology), Lauren Sardi (sociology), Karen Veselits (English), and Suzanne Hudd (sociology).

The day concluded with a reception and roundtable discussion.