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Writers Room Breaks in New Campus Space with Canon Photography Partnership

November 14, 2017

Writers Room members during their NEA Big Read launch event at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, September 2016.
Writers Room members during their NEA Big Read launch event at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, September 2016.

Drexel University’s Writers Room, a College of Arts and Sciences initiative within the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, will introduce its first satellite location on campus this fall. Located on the first floor of MacAlister Hall, it will serve as the anchor location for a new program created in partnership with Canon Solutions America Inc. to promote literacy and life skills.                                          

Drexel and Canon Solutions America teamed up to create a unique, scalable, replicable, and measurable model for written and creative expression in underserved communities. The program, called “TRIPOD at Writers Room: people, places, portraits,” will begin in the Fall 2017 term.

Canon Solutions America's Enterprise Managed Services Division, which provides Drexel with equipment and consulting, initiated the program to inspire creative written expression and social impact in the West Philadelphia community.

TRIPOD at Writers Room combines photography and writing in a compelling format to support the individual and social impact initiatives that distinguish Drexel’s involvement in West Philadelphia. Building on the success of Writers Room, this program will continue to foster authentic relationships between people from diverse backgrounds; incorporating Drexel students, faculty, staff, and neighbors young and old. The program also includes teenage students in Philadelphia from the highly successful Mighty Writers non-profit afterschool writing program.

The College of Arts and Sciences encourages Drexel students and community members to learn and grow together, which not only cultivates valuable relationships, but also demonstrates that diverse perspectives strengthen and enrich our understanding of the world,” said Donna Murasko, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Prior workshops at Writers Room have used photographs as a vehicle to facilitate written expression, but this is the first time the program is exploring photography as an independent form of expression.

"TRIPOD at Writers Room is designed to confront, explore and embrace imaginative approaches to documenting, archiving, reporting and responding to the past, present and ongoing changes in our shared community from multiple and diverse perspectives,” said Rachel Wenrick, associate teaching professor of English and director of Writers Room. “This combination has the potential to generate profound intergenerational and diverse social-economic learning.”

Small teams, consisting of a community member from Writers Room, a high school student from Mighty Writers and a Drexel undergraduate, will meet bi-monthly to develop projects and independent work facilitated by Writers Room faculty over a nine-month period. They will begin the program with a weekend workshop, facilitated by Canon’s Imaging Technology Consumer Group, to get basic camera instruction and photography fundamentals that focus on the intersection of writing and photography as expressive media tools. 

“Experience is the best teacher,” said Khalia Robinson, program director of Mighty Writers West. “With partnerships like what we're doing with Drexel’s Writers Room and Canon, the children have an opportunity to experience things that may never have had access to.” 

The participants will also be encouraged to join Writers Room’s regular monthly workshops to provide additional points of engagement and spread awareness for these projects throughout the community. At the culmination of Drexel’s Spring term, a reading and reception featuring the work of these triads will be held at the Dornsife Center.

"Consistent with the One Drexel – One Canon mission, this program is a wonderful way to create trust between the neighborhood and the university. Canon is proud to strengthen and broaden the photography component of the program, as we continue to look for ways to support Drexel in its efforts to develop a curriculum and a shared set of outcomes," said Valerie Belli, vice president, Canon Solutions America’s Enterprise Managed Services Division.