At the May, 2017 meeting of the LSA Executive Committee (EC), it was agreed that the LSA should do more to support the work of students and faculty at community colleges (CC).

Rationale: The LSA is committed to increasing diversity within the field of Linguistics, and one way to accomplish this goal is by actively engaging community colleges. The faculty and students at community colleges are an under-utilized resource.  Engaging and supporting these populations will potentially boost interest in the Linguistics major among transfer students to four-year colleges and universities, increase the pool of applicants seeking advanced degrees in Linguistics, and diversify the professoriate within Linguistics.

Planning: To lay the groundwork for addressing these issues, the LSA has undertaken the following activities:

  • Convened a planning meeting with Anne Charity Hudley, a member of the EC who volunteered to consult on the project, and Jamaal Muwwakkil, the Ivan Sag Fellow and former community college student.
  • Conducted a preliminary survey of LSA members about their experiences in working or studying at community colleges. A summary of the survey responses may be viewed here.
  • Met with various scholarly societies that have conducted similar outreach activities targeted at community colleges, including the: American Political Science Association, American Sociological Association, Modern Language Association, and American Anthropological Association. We also met with the Director of the Humanities Indicators project of the American Academy to discuss their new data initiative on community colleges. In addition, we initiated contact with the Humanities Community College Association and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Based on our meetings with the colleague societies, the following programs, services and strategies were most common:

  • Establishing a task force, committee or other body to study these issues, make recommendations, and serve as a continuing resource.
  • Offering special programming at the annual meeting.
  • Conducting surveys of faculty.
  • Developing web-based resources.
  • Highlighting issues unique to community colleges in journals on teaching in that discipline.

The survey of LSA members showed strong interest in the following possibilities (not an exhaustive list):

  • Fund community college scholarships for students and faculty to attend the Annual Meeting.  Alternatively, waive Annual Meeting registration fee for those from local community colleges.
  • Outreach to community colleges in the vicinity of each LSA Annual Meeting.
  • Offer Annual Meeting programming related to teaching in community colleges.
  • Encourage/facilitate participation by community college faculty in the Linguistics in Higher Education Committee.
  • Prepare and offer syllabi for introductory linguistics courses/modules that could be used by community college instructors.
  • Coordinate with ACTFL/AAA/TESOL to provide guidance to CC faculty and students about how best to prepare for linguistics-related studies after they leave the CC. 
  • Develop and disseminate resources for linguists (especially recent PhDs conducting a job search) interested in teaching at community colleges.

Anticipated Next Steps

  • Send follow-up e-mail to those survey respondents who expressed interest in being more involved.
  • Convene an organizing meeting for a new Special Interest Group (SIG) on Community Colleges, to be held at the LSA’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, UT in January 2018.
  • Begin planning work for any new programs, services, or activities. Form working sub-groups focused on each of these.

If you are interested in getting more involved in this Initiative, please email David Robinson.