What’s the Story?

Research Reflection Prompt #1
Due Sunday September 11th

One part of being able to document the life experiences of students, alumni, staff and faculty at your college or university is getting to know and communicate the broad story and context of your institution. Each of your institutions has told it story, whether in print, in on line promotional materials, in books, and even documentaries. These narratives not only capture significant events in the history of an institution and community; they also tell a story from a particular perspective and for a purpose.

The Task
To get you started on learning more about your institution—and to give everyone participating in the NAPLA project useful information about where we all are writing from—your first task in this course is to 1) compose a descriptive account of your college or university and 2) post that account on your blog.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Gather information and synthesize the factual story of your institution from its founding to 2016. What is the story? When was your college/university founded and why? What was its mission? When it changed mission/directions as a college/university, what were those changes in response to? And,
  • When you look at the changes your university has made since 1945 (in its mission, its curriculum, its student body, its financing, its campus/classroom design, its technologies, etc.), discuss what stands out to you – what is significant about those changes or how those changes were accomplished, etc.?

Your writing should go beyond a Wiki-like entry. Your college / university has a story worth telling. Using various publications about it, what is the tale of your institution?

As you are working on this first piece of writing, too, give some of your attention to the institutional story as a story and consider the rhetorical considerations of the author(s) as well.

Once you have drafted, revised, and edited your brief history of your institution please

  • check that you have documented your sources carefully using whatever citation system you are familiar with (MLA, Chicago, APA)
  • give the brief history a title
  • publish the brief history on your blog

Before you press “Publish,” note well that Word Press allows you to link to other digital sites or pdf files, whether in your text or Works Cited page. (We will learn more about this if you have not used WP before.) You may also create categories and tags for your posts, and we will talk about the advantages of doing so in our class meetings.

When you post your entry, it will be syndicated to the course blog. Before we meet for our first video conferencing session on Tuesday the 13th, we will have the opportunity to read all of the blog posts. This will be interesting for everyone!

We will also be copying and pasting the bios you write on your individual blogs and putting them up on the NAPLA course blog. All of this information will help us introduce ourselves and begin the process of learning more about our public liberal arts institutions.

Finally, next week might be a good time to meet the archivist, or the person in charge of special collections at your university’s library. You might also want to gather the names of people in charge of Public Relations, Alumni Relations/Advancement, or Admissions Office, or begin identifying people on your campus who might hold the stories and trends and contexts that they see in your college or university.

Have fun! And be in touch if you have any questions.

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