UVU holds first Conference on Writing for Social Change

Reading Time: 2 minutes Speakers came to share their views on how students can write to affect those around them.

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Words have the power to influence society, or so presenters agreed when speaking to students about using rhetoric to make a difference at the Conference on Writing for Social Change on Nov. 13.


As the first conference of this type at UVU, the event took place in both the UVU Library and Liberal Arts Building in three sessions. The conference featured staff speakers from the university who spoke about the use of writing in society and how students can use communication to change their communities.


“I think we did what we came here to do,” said speaker Rob Carney, English professor.


Carney spoke about the use of poetry to achieve change in society. He shared some of his work and encouraged students to write their own.


“Hopefully that continues beyond this one day, this one room, this one hour,” he said.


The sessions included speeches from topics such as “Women in Media,” “Child Advocacy” and “Immigrants and Refugees,” as well as one titled “Change the Story from Wealth to Health” by keynote speaker Chip Ward.


Carney placed an emphasis on using art to reach out and touch an audience.


“If I did well, the poems do their work,” Carney said. “That’s art’s job and maybe that’s enough.”


Some students may have only attended the conference for extra credit in their English classes, although some were there because they truly wanted to know how to make a difference with their writing.


Becca Askren, 23, attended the conference to enjoy learning from the writing of others.


“I love [Carney’s] writing. The way he makes everything visual helps to carry across the meaning,” she said after listening to a poetry session. “He talked about things he’s noticed that we need to pay attention to. If we don’t care, no one will care.”


Though Askren’s psychology major didn’t require her to attend the conference, she went to listen anyway because the thought the topic was important.


“I wanted to see how other writers approach making social change happen,” she said.


Askren pointed out an example from the conference about making a difference in society.


“Like in elementary school, they tell you just write to your congressman and make a change. I don’t think people really believe that anymore,” Askren said.


English major Janis Howse listened to keynote speaker Chip Ward to supplement a paper she was writing for a class, but the things she heard were of more value than she originally imagined. She learned a lot about the differences in style of Internet writing and other writing, and how to handle each.


The conference was full of believers in the power of writing to change. Each session was created to inspire the audience to use words to impact the world around them.