1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania May term class hones digital content skills through community engagement

people sorting books

This May term, a Transylvania University class got real-world writing and video experience while serving the local community.

Students in a variety of majors who took Writing for/with Nonprofits not only explored the “histories, genres and rhetorical practices that inform the good work of nonprofits,” but they also volunteered to do some of this good work themselves — from sorting donations to providing some of their digital liberal arts expertise.

Professors Kerri Hauman and Scott Whiddon have team-taught the course both during May term and the longer fall semester. Their students work with the local Community Action Council each time; the most recent class created videos, blog posts and graphics — content the nonprofit shared on its website and social media during May’s Community Action Month.

Working together on this video, the class launched its partnership with CAC this May term.

“In each iteration of this course, we’ve seen amazing growth in students’ rhetorical sensibilities, their engagement with drafting and revising and offering peers feedback and their understanding of and empathy toward the larger Lexington community they are a part of,” according to the professors. “This class allows students to do real writing for real audiences and real purposes. It connects the values of a liberal arts education with the needs of community-based writing.”

This May term, the students also volunteered at The Nest and International Book Project (pictured above), and representatives from other nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity and the Tahlsound Music Festival, came to their classroom.

“Working directly with nonprofits that are doing amazing things in Lexington inspired me to do the same,” junior Ysa Leon said. “I’m so grateful for the experience that I had.”

Caroline Shutt, a senior who’s giving Saturday’s commencement address, said college students rarely get a chance “to create real content for real audiences, and our class partnership with CAC allowed us to do just that. It’s been an honor to work with such an amazing organization that makes our Lexington community better.”

Students visited the nonprofit FoodChain, which provides Lexington residents with fresh, locally sourced meals.