English Ph.D. Dissertations


Durable WAC: A Sustainability Study of Two WAC Programs at Two, Two-Year Colleges

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing) PhD

First Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Kerri Knippen (Other)

Third Advisor

Neil Baird (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sue Carter-Wood (Committee Member)


This dissertation reviews major WAC scholarship from the four-year university/college level and extrapolates salient WAC protocols that impact sustainability. It constructs a series of eight heuristics based on Michelle Cox, Jeffrey Galin, and Dan Melzer’s “Building Sustainable WAC Programs.” Deploying these heuristics within a systems theory matrix, it conducts a forensic analysis of data from two, two-year college WAC programs, one dormant and one active, and ultimately isolates WAC protocols that either enhance or reduce sustainability. The foreword presents a brief history of the two-year college movement. Chapter one thoroughly discusses the lack of scholarship at two-year institutions, reviews the history, theory and praxis of WAC at four-year colleges, develops a list of WAC protocols from the history, theory, and praxis, and presents an overview of this project. Chapter two discusses the types of data collection methods, the data types, their relevance to this project, collection procedures, and constructs eight data analysis heuristics from the protocols listed in chapter one and the sustainability scholarship developed by Cox et. al. Chapters three and four separately discuss the history and development of both campuses, presents the findings from both sites and briefly analyzes them within the context of their specific exigencies. Chapter five thoroughly analyzes the data from both sites at the local level and the field level and hypothesizes on the presence and absence of sustainability protocols developed in chapters one and two. The findings take note of three salient aspects of the protocols which the analysis heuristics revealed as most relevant to sustainability within these two programs: consensus on the concept of good writing, the degree of autonomy teaching faculty exercised over their respective programs, and the level of participation among faculty outside of the liberal arts/general education departments. The implications thus suggest that without robust attention to these protocols, WAC programs are significantly less durable. The contribution this project makes to the field of WAC is twofold. First, it contributes to sustainability studies in the field of WAC studies. Second, it begins to contribute to our knowledge of WAC at two-year institutions.