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Features Headline — 16 April 2014

By Kylie Ambu

Albion College has added an English major with an emphasis in professional writing to its English department. With hopes of supporting the professional writing emphasis, Jessica Roberts, associate professor, and members of the Albion community have gathered to bring a new course to Albion’s campus: Practical Persuasion.

This new course will focus on applying professional writing skills to real-world contexts. It will also serve to emphasize both individual and collaborative projects, such as grants, proposals, reports and studies. The class will have an opportunity to focus on these aspects of the course through composing a grant application for a program called The Big Read.

The Big Read is run by the National Endowment for the Arts, and it is a program aiming to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and encourage reading for pleasure and entertainment by supporting initiatives that bring communities together around a shared book.

According to Roberts, this summer, The Big Read planning committee in Albion will select a book to act as the course’s “anchor text” and will generate a set of principles to guide their planning. In the fall, students will collaborate with this committee through the following tasks: students will design programming that is intended to engage the entire community, compose a rationale that articulates how and why the given programming will meet the communities needs and the goals of The Big Read program, prepare a budget that explains how the class will be using the grant money and identify and secure match funds from a range of non-federal sources.

“By the end of the semester, the students will have completed an application for a major grant, and we will submit that application to the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA], by the January 2015 deadline. By April, I hope that we will have cause for celebration –  that is, I hope that we will learn that the NEA has funded our Big Read,” Roberts said.

Many of the students at Albion College are in support of the tag-team effort of the college and town. Madeline Drury, Midland junior, has registered for the Practical Persuasion course and is confident that the class will create a commonality between the town of Albion and Albion College.

“I’m really excited because I think it’s the beginning steps of bridging this gap that’s between the [city] of Albion and the college,” Drury said.  “Participating in something that is going to bring the two together is important, necessary and influential.”

Roberts has worked with a number of members from the Albion community to get The Big Read project off the ground.

Community members of The Big Read project include Director of the Albion Public Library, Karen Kuhn, Director of Kids at Hope, Harry Bonner, former Principal of Harrington Elementary School, Mae Ola Dunklin and co-owner of the Albion Heritage Bed and Breakfast, Mary Slater.

Many of the committee members see The Big Read program as an opportunity to unite Albion College and the Albion town community. Karen Kuhn is especially excited to work with Albion College on The Big Read project.

“The library is very honored that Dr. Roberts thought of us as a partner,” Kuhn said. “We are looking forward to bringing the college and the community together on The Big Read. We will always be supportive of the college and the community working collaboratively to break down the invisible barriers that had been created so long ago. I believe that the college and the library can show that collaboration between two institutions, thinking outside the box, working toward a bigger goal, can and does work. ”

Photo via greenlibrary.info

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About Author

Kylie is a first-year from Brown City, Michigan. She is a double-major in Professional Communication & Production and English, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.

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