Faculty Spotlight Dr. Phyllis Ryder

Nashman Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Phyllis Ryder

Professor Ryder is an Associate Professor of Writing specializing in service learning, composition, academic literacy, faculty librarian partnerships for teaching academic research, rhetoric of democracy, public and community writing. Itohan Amu, a Community Engaged Scholar at the Nashman Center, sat down with Dr. Ryder to learn more about her work.

She has two current publications. The first is a book, Rhetorics for Community Action: Public Writing and Writing Publics https://www.amazon.com/Rhetorics-Community-Action-Cultural-Pedagogy/dp/0739137662 . The second is an article about her evolving understanding of the community partners that she works with, From Reciprocity to Interdependence: Mass Incarceration and Service Learning available here http://proxygw.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=121172789&site=ehost-live

We asked Professor Ryder how she incorporates service learning into her courses. She allows “students to work with organizations in DC in order to have a context to really think about language, writing and communication and also because it sparks some questions that students will often research”.  She made clear that she likes it because it helps people to understand that there’s a deeper purpose for the scholarship that happens at the university and understand the amount of impact that the students can make on the community by answering real world questions. Over the years, Professor Ryder has worked with over 20 community partners including: Life Pieces to Masterpieces, DC Central Kitchen, Free Minds Book Club, US Dream Academy and many more.

During the course of her class, Professor Ryder talks about what’s actually happening among community organizations and how they conceptualize social change while doing their work and what it means to bring a community together. Professor Ryder believes that it is important for GW students and professors to be involved in the community because it forces them to keep testing their assumptions. It’s important for them to understand the issues happening today and the new layers that come with it. She stated that “what’s happening on the ground is dynamic and if we’re not plugged into that, then scholars and teachers are not necessarily doing their scholarship fully and are teaching in a limited way. Having that engagement with community keeps them humble and keeps them to adapt theories and goals.”

The Nashman Center appreciates Dr. Ryder’s work as a Nashman Affiliate, she chairs the Black Lives Matter Faculty Learning Community learn more about their work here and community engaged work in her course which you can learn more about here.

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