English faculty collaborate with community partners and programs in diverse ways, including community partnerships focused on dis/ability through literature, writing with a community language school, helping communities tell stories through podcasting, and promoting science for the public.
Community partnership focuses on Dis/ability through literature
- Janis Greve's course, English 317: Dis/ability and Literature, gives UMass students the opportunity to use the lenses of literature and art to better understand the physical and developmental differences that can often act as barriers in our society. Guided by Greve, students partner with members of two community organizations—Milestones in Hadley and Riverside Industries in Easthampton—and work with individuals within these organizations in creating their own brief graphic memoirs.
Writing with a Community Language School
- In Rebecca Lorimer Leonard's undergraduate course, Multilingualism and Literacy in Western Massachusetts, UMass Amherst students collaborate with students and teachers at the International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI) on a series of writing projects. Lorimer Leonard’s students have supported international students’ and scholars’ writing in ILI’s Intensive English Program; tutored immigrant and refugee students in ILI’s Free English Evening Program; revised ILI’s host family guidebook; and recently created a free, open source literacy curriculum to help language learners earn a driver’s license in Massachusetts. Lorimer Leonard’s community-engaged course introduces students to theories of multilingual literacies and then works to apply and challenge that theory to think hard about literacy’s impact on local communities.
Radius Podcasts: Helping communities tell stories
- Edie Meidav is the founder and director of Radius, a student-led organization which offers the skills of narrative, storytelling, job training, and digital literacy to members of underserved communities in greater Massachusetts. Using the populist medium of podcasting and the smartphone, MFA candidates and BA students help community members tell their stories and those of their communities. Currently, Radius is working with the Care Center in Holyoke and other organizations to create a podcast that aims to share community members' lived experiences of the pandemic with the goal of promoting policy change.
Science for the Public
- Dave Toomey serves on the Board of Directors of Science for the Public (SFtP), a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve public understanding of, and appreciation for, science. SFtP maintains a website, publishes a newsletter, sponsors a speaker series and, with the WGBH Forum Network, produces videos.
- Founded in 2004, the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action engages the community at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Western Massachusetts, and beyond with outstanding and diverse literary programming and provides opportunities for MFA candidates to develop professional skills, participate in critical issues of the day, and cultivate a network of professional and academic colleagues. As a national focal point and regional home for literary art, the Juniper Initiative offers a dynamic range of programs.
Western Massachusetts Writing Project
- The Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP) is a professional community of K-12 teachers dedicated to providing a space for teachers to teach other teachers, as we all work towards improving student achievement and success. WMWP offers a variety of programs and professional development, including a wide range of workshops and graduate courses, several summer institutes, two annual conferences, and youth writing programs.