Place, Literacy Learning, and Civic Engagement: A Case Study of Adventure Risk Challenge
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Place, Literacy Learning, and Civic Engagement: A Case Study of Adventure-Risk-Challenge investigates learning that takes place at Adventure-Risk-Challenge (ARC), a nonprofit, outside-of-school program that supports the literacy and leadership development of California’s underserved youth. Previous research on place, literacy learning, and civic engagement has looked at these elements together in studies of service learning, (e.g. Dubinsky, Reynolds) and spatial and ecological theories of writing (e.g. Reynolds, Dobrin, Weisser). This study engages three tensions: one between literacy sponsorship and literacy violence; one between operating assumptions about the importance of settings vs. how settings actually influence learning; and one about competing definitions of “citizen.” I located and examined these tensions based on data collected from participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and archival research, which was coded as part of my analysis. Based on my findings, I argue for an ecological model of literacy sponsorship that highlights greater agency for beneficiaries and offers heuristics for examining reciprocity. My findings suggest ARC students’ literacy learning is improved due to direct and indirect impacts of the natural, outdoor settings where ARC takes place. Finally, my work illustrates how rhetorical education and consideration of “citizenship” can be implemented into place-based education to build a more comprehensive model of Greenwood’s critical pedagogy of place. These findings have implications for practitioners interested in a model of possibilities for literacy, place-based, and rhetorical education.