Michael A. Moreno
This week, I am attending for the first time the Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media, or LATISM, conference in Washington, D.C., and I have been thinking a lot about why higher education professionals, including teachers of writing such as me, should attend conferences like LATISM.
You don’t have to twist arms to get academics to attend discipline-specific meetings. The case has been made, for example, for literature professors to attend the Modern Language Association’s meetings. It’s also not that hard to convince academic department administrators to cover expenses for disciplinary meetings, though it certainly has become more challenging recently as universities facing state funding cuts have tightened their belts. But it’s quite a bit more difficult for academics to make the choice of and case for attending nonacademic, interdisciplinary conferences with broad themes that do not appear to directly relate to their day-to-day responsibilities.
For example, LATISM’s theme is “igniting Latinos to drive the innovation economy.” That sounds great in theory, right? It sure does to me. But what does that have to do with teaching writing? Well, a lot, actually. LATISM has a number of tracks, and each, in one way or another, relates to what I teach in my writing classes: persuasion.
Here are the LATISM tracks and how they relate to my work:
If an academic is forced to choose between attending a disciplinary meeting, at which he or she can present in front of an audience of his or her peers, or a nonacademic meeting, at which he or she will be an outsider and perhaps even a learner, the academic most likely will pick the safe bet. I argue that the safe bet is not always the best bet ― for us or for our students.
Michael A. Moreno teaches writing at American University and at the University of Maryland University College. Follow him at www.twitter.com/morenoreads.