Must We? The Discourse of Student Need

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Wendy Ryden, Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning
contact email: 

Call for Papers
Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning
Deadline: August 15, 2023

Must We? The Discourse of Student Need

Writing studies, in its aims to meet “student need,” has always been teleological in its orientation. But should we continue to assume that we know what future we are preparing our students for and maintain confidence in what best serves them? This special issue asks for a critical reappraisal of our reliance on those discourses of goals, needs, and assessments and how they have shaped and continue to shape our fields, especially given emerging transnationalism and globalism in teaching and scholarship.

Sharon Crowley critiqued student need as linked to literacy crises and the service function of composition—the rationale that provides institutional justification for the universality of the required course: “the discourse of needs positions composition teachers as servants of a student need that is spoken, not by students themselves, but by people speaking for powerful institutions” (1995). Some years later Linda Adler-Kassner and Susanmarie Harrington argue that deficit models of need morphed into paradigms of institutional failure, where schools and universities are assigned responsibility for “education…veer[ing] from its historically determined path” (2006) and that such thinking works to eclipse insights into the situational literacies that expanded our understandings of writing. Even the empowering concept of “student-centered learning” can be co-opted in this regard by institutions eager to control narratives justifying oppressive corporatizing and marginalization of faculty. And we now see an emphasis on student “protection” as the latest twist on the discipline of student need.

As the American Century recedes from the world stage, we have entered a state of what Bruce Horner might call “mobility” (2021). What does this shifting order mean for teaching and learning? How do we reconsider local educational practices in light of changed and changing global power structures?

Despite robust critiques, need rhetoric continues to impact our theories and practices. While what constitutes “need” evolves definitionally, making way in some instances for more pluralist and progressive positions, the tropes of what we “must” do and what students “must” learn remain powerful forces. JAEPL seeks articles for Volume 28 (publication 2024) that examine the impacts of existing paradigms and theorize what new ones might look like. Topics might include but are not limited to:

nationalism and insularity global literacy and internationalism

englishes and language hegemonies multilingualism

priorities within education/universities environmental/social/political justice and literacy

AI culture wars/censorship/curriculum
gig economies and quiet quitting common core/other standards

Please contact the editor with inquiries and/or send completed essays (6500 words) by August 15, 2023 to . Please see for archived issues and