Community Engaged Composition Courses

Community-engaged composition courses fulfill all student learning outcomes of GMU's composition courses while also requiring students to work with a community organization partner for 15-20 hours per semester. Students will use this work to forward their understanding of the community and to become better writers as they critically interact with community issues. 


Fall 2019 CE Sections:

ENGH 101-CE1: Courtney Wooten, TR 9:00-10:15

Libraries in some form have existed for thousands of years and served a variety of patrons, with Mason’s own Fenwick and Gateway libraries now offering you access to a variety of resources you will need in your time at GMU and with the Library of Congress, the unofficial national library of the U.S., only an hour away in DC. ENGH 101-CE1 asks what the role of modern libraries are and what functions they serve in communities, schools, universities, and other spaces. You will be participating in the expanded activities of the Chantilly Regional Library by serving as a conversation partner for two hours each week to adults and teens learning to speak English. Your partnership with this library will help you consider the many functions of libraries and how libraries can best serve the communities they are located within as we read, write, and think our way into conversations about these important public spaces.


ENGH 101-CE2: Ariel Goldenthal, TR 10:30-11:45

ENGH 101-CE4: Ariel Goldenthal, TR 1:30-2:45

ENGH 101-CE2 and 101-CE4 are community-engaged writing courses in partnership with 826DC, a program focused on helping to foster creative and expository writing skills in K-12 students in Washington, D.C. Students in the course will have the opportunity to tutor in 826 DC’s after school writing lab, work with classes as they write and publish stories and essays, and translate written materials from English to other languages. Throughout the course, you will tackle the complex concept of literacy as you apply it to your own experiences and learn about the literacy experiences of other communities. Your work with 826DC, and the inquiry-driven research that you complete in the course, will ask you to interrogate your own ideas about language and literacy.

Because this course includes volunteering with the D.C. public school system, students will be required to complete a brief background check in order to participate. If this is a barrier for you, please know that there will be opportunities for students who cannot complete it. 


ENGH 101-CE3: Tom Polk, TR 3:00-4:15

In this class, we will explore the role that literacy plays in our daily lives. We will begin by considering literacy as a broad set of communicative practices that we participate in across communities and contexts; that is, it’s more than just academic reading and writing. As a class, we will then ask questions such as: What does it mean to be literate? How do we become literate? How do our literacy practices relate to our identities? And how does literacy function across different settings and communities? As part of this course, we will also spend two hours each week participating in the conversation partners program at the Chantilly Regional Library where we will talk with adults and teens learning to speak English. Our participation in this program offers us the opportunity to participate in their literacy development while prompting us to reflect on our own ongoing development.


ENGH 101-CE7: Tawnya Azar, TR 10:30-11:45

ENGH 101-CE8: Tawnya Azar, TR 12:00-1:15

In ENGH 101-CE7 and ENGH 101-CE8, you will learn the skills of critical reading, writing, and research while engaging with digital literacy communities. Digital literacy is fast becoming an essential skill, but instruction and access to digital literacy instruction is notoriously unequal. In ENG 101 CE, you will read texts about what it means to be literate in a digital world, you will engage with digital literacy community partners, and you will practice writing about, for, or with our community partners based on their needs and the needs of the communities they serve. This course will ask you to evaluate and develop your own digital literacy and writing skills and to consider how you might leverage both to make a difference in your chosen community. 


ENGH 101-CE9: Eric Auld, TR 9:00-10:15

In ENGH 101-CE9, you will focus on the role mental health has played in a variety of rhetorical contexts from past to present, as well as national, regional, and local efforts to combat this ongoing issue. Inside the classroom, you will read and discuss a number of texts on inquiries, challenges, and endeavors within the mental health arena; rhetorically analyze portrayals of mental illnesses in reality and the media; and perform primary and secondary research on a concentration of your choice. Outside the classroom, you will work with the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) of Northern Virginia, reflecting on and analyzing the importance of mental health awareness and advocacy between populations both inside and outside the University’s walls. By exploring this issue through the lens of several historical, educational, professional, and domestic settings, you will immerse yourself in an ongoing conversation that impacts millions in the U.S. and considers where to go from here.  


ENGH 101-C10: Michelle Conklin, MWF 12:30-1:20

ENGH 101-C11: Michelle Conklin, MWF 1:30-2:20

Students who enroll in this community-engaged version of ENGH 101 will work with both clients and staff members of A-SPAN (Arlington Street People's Action Network), an organization dedicated to serving the local homeless population. Students will complete 15-20 service hours working at the A-SPAN service center, two blocks away from the Court House Metro Station on the Orange Line and across from the Arlington Police Station. Students will read about the causes and effects of homelessness prior to working at A-SPAN. In addition, students will write about their experiences and complete projects that require research and writing both for and about A-SPAN and its clients. Volunteer opportunities include serving meals, assisting clients with scheduling services available at the center, moving clients into housing, teaching a class focused on an in-demand skill, and organizing drives for clothing or other basic needs.


ENGH 101-C12: Kathryn Meeks, TR 12:00-1:15

ENGH 101-C13: Kathryn Meeks, TR 3:00-4:15

In ENGH 101 C12 and ENGH 101 C13 we will explore writing and reading as rhetorical acts. This class will focus on writing as a subject (what we will be studying) as well as writing as a process (what we will be doing). Along with writing, we will develop a deeper understanding of literacy and literacy-related issues as we read, write, and work with our community partner, Reading Partners D.C. As you gain experience promoting literacy in D.C. communities by tutoring reading lessons in D.C. schools, we will explore the socioeconomic and material factors that influence literacy development in the individual and in society. To participate in this course you will need to schedule a time to be a reading tutor for one hour a week in a D.C. school. Reading Partners D.C. will help you schedule your tutoring so that you can fit it in to both your schedule and theirs. You will also need proof of a Tuberculosis test (which you will have completed for Mason already). You will also need to complete a background check (we will give you instructions for this part). The background check is necessary to work in a D.C. public school.

For more information about this course or the community partner, Reading Partners D.C. please email the instructor, Kathryn Meeks at


ENGH 101-C15: Jennifer Messier, MW 1:30-2:45

ENGH 101-C16: Jennifer Messier, MW 3:00-4:15

In ENGH 101-C15 and ENGH 101-C16, you will read, think, research, and write to understand the socioeconomic factors and sponsors that shape literacy development, and the impact that literacy has on individual and societal well-being. As you do so, you will also gain an experiential, on-the-ground understanding of early literacy development by reading (and creating!) books with children via our community partner, SACC (School Age Child Care), a nonprofit before- and after-school program in Fairfax County elementary schools. To participate, you must be available one day a week (from approximately 5:00-6:00pm) and must pass a background check with CPS (Child Protective Services). For more information about the course and/or its community partner, please contact Prof. Messier at