Assistant Director of Service Learning
Assistant Professor of English
Office: Norcross, Room 203
Cara completed her BA in liberal arts at Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA), her MA in English at Portland State University (Portland, Oregon), and her Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). Much of her research and teaching includes service learning, critical pedagogy, and globalization studies. Her dissertation, “Thinking Globally, Writing Locally: Re-Visioning Critical and Service Learning Pedagogies with Globalization Theory,” uses ethnographic and teacher-research methods to investigate how integrating globalization theory into a combined critical and service learning pedagogy affects student engagement and student resistance. She examines the scholarly debates on critical and service learning pedagogies and works to address the critiques that have arisen within the field. Scholars have clearly and effectively discussed the contradictions and limitations of these pedagogical approaches, but only a few have begun describing what alternative approaches might look like in practice. Therefore, my project is working to fill a gap in contemporary composition scholarship and will offer a significant contribution to composition studies.
Within her service learning courses, students either participate in a community literacy project working with elementary school students at Maybury Elementary School in Southwest Detroit, or with various projects at a local non-profit, Latino Family Services. For the past two semesters, she has asked students to design final projects in conjunction with their organization that serve a specific purpose or fulfill a need. The students have pursued a wide array of projects: developing a journal for the Hispanic community discussing local and national social and political issues; creating a documentary video with a group of Latino high school students; developing pamphlets with articles concerning health issues such as asthma and type two diabetes and detailing the places where people can go for low-cost health services; designing and implementing a book project with elementary school students detailing how to write a strong essay for the state Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) exam; and creating a summer literacy program with reading and writing activities for children at home while they are out of school. Some of her students’ projects have been printed and distributed within the community, and others are electronically available on the Internet.