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Writing in the Knowledge Society

Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (CATTW)

York University , Toronto, Ontario, HNE 034
May 28 - 30, 2006

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Welcome to the Website of the special international conference on Writing in the Knowledge Society organized by the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing in collaboration with our partners:

"Writing in the Knowledge Society" is a multidisciplinary international conference that examines the link between writing and knowledge making in academic, workplace, and public settings to derive research, pedagogical, and policy implications for the study and teaching of writing in the knowledge society.

Join us from May 28-30, 2006, at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences to share, discuss, and reflect on the link between writing and knowledge and on the role and impact of writing in the knowledge society.

Objectives of the Conference
The main objective of this special international and multidisciplinary conference on “Writing in the Knowledge Society” is to facilitate the exchange of scholarship and research on the role of writing, discourse, and communication in academic and non-academic (workplace and public) settings in the emerging knowledge society. In particular, the conference addresses these research concerns: What is the link between writing and knowledge? How is this link articulated in academic and non-academic settings, and especially in increasingly digital environments? How, in Catherine Schryer’s (2005) words, do researchers and teachers of writing articulate their logic(s) of practice in these contexts? To address these questions, the conference facilitates the exchange of the most recent scholarship and derives the policy implications for the study and teaching of writing in the knowledge society. In pursuing these objectives, the conference has the overall goal of advancing the study and teaching of writing in both academic and non-academic settings in Canada and internationally.

Why "Writing in the Knowledge Society"?
In the knowledge society, the link between writing and knowledge becomes a pressing research concern for a number of reasons. First, much of the value in a knowledge society—more than 75%--is created not through the processing of materials, but through the generation and sharing of knowledge (Brandt, 2005). Second, as Deborah Brandt (2005) notes, it is largely through writing and communication that knowledge is created, codified, shared, revised, contested, used, or enacted. Regardless of the profession or organization, workplace professionals use writing in order to generate ideas, to structure and shape their thoughts, to argue for or contest knowledge claims, to collaboratively create and share knowledge, propose and coordinate projects and business ventures, assess their feasibility, solve problems, and take action. Similarly, in academic contexts, disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge is created, shared, and advanced largely through writing and communication. As Ken Hyland (2004) notes, “what academics principally do is write: they publish articles, book reviews, conference papers and research notes; they communicate with colleagues by email, reprint requests, and referee evaluations” (p. 3) —and increasingly they do so through digital technologies (WIDE Research Centre Collective, 2005).

In the knowledge society, then, discursive practices—writing and communication—become central to knowledge creation and sharing. In essence, they form a large part of the epistemological infrastructure in a knowledge society. Without attention to writing and discourse as knowledge-making practices, a knowledge society will not be able to thrive and compete in an increasingly global knowledge economy. However, despite some progress in the last few years, the study and teaching of writing in academic and non-academic settings are often still absent from university curricula and receive little systematic attention in university and national policy agendas. Yet, if the role of writing and discourse in the knowledge society is not systematically addressed, Canadian businesses, communities, and individuals will find it difficult to compete in a global knowledge economy.