In 2017, Dr. Aurora Matzke (English) and a few colleagues started having casual conversations about how systems and networks stymie efforts to create more inclusive programs and institutions. Everything from academic labor issues and workplace boundaries to inclusive assessment benchmarks and equitable service requirements.

Soon thereafter, Dr. Matzke and these colleagues presented this topic on a panel at the Conference of College Composition and Communications (CCCC). During the panel, one of the attendees said, “You all really need to publish something on this. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it out there.”

A few years later, Systems Shift: Creating and Navigating Change in Rhetoric and Composition Administration (2023 University Press of Colorado, Denver) was created.

The Voice of Wilkinson sat down with Dr. Matzke to discuss her latest publication.

Voice of Wilkinson: Tell me a little about the book and how the CCCC help launch it into conception.

Aurora Matzke: These conversations culminated in our Conference on College Composition and Communication’s (CCCC) 2018 panel. Simply put, the goal of that panel was this: acknowledging that citing best practice was not cutting it when we tried to work toward equity and inclusion within our administrative roles. But what was working? Openly talking about, applying, and working through various program issues within the context of system and network theories

VoW: What do you hope the book accomplishes?

AM: The goal was to provide space for composition and rhetoric experts and researchers of and from various gender identities, socioeconomic statuses, races, religions, and professional levels to unpack, expose, and demystify the roadblocks getting in the way of inclusive work. Because of the purposeful inclusion of diverse experts, voices, and academic backgrounds—and because this collection is an exercise in pushing against established systems that stifle diverse work, identities, and values—we encouraged the collection authors to rhetorically use mediums of writing that incorporate, bend, or push back against historically normative expectations of academic writing. We intentionally showcase various ways to interpret, experience, and resist networks and systems.

VoW: What did you learn while working  on this project? 

AM: Because the collection works to bring a broad range of change agents together, I’ve learned from each and every author. One of the most profound lessons that I am thankful for is the ways in which the chapters showcase the phenomenal resilience of so many in the face of such adversity.

VoW: What do you hope readers will gain from Systems Shift ?

AM: We intend for the chapters in this collection to posit new frameworks within 21st-century rhetoric and composition administrative conditions that can work toward progress and justice for all of us, including our departments, our universities, and our professional communities. We are convinced our contributors’ examinations of the disciplinary and public networks, the intra-campus and institutional networks, and the personal and relational networks benefit rhetoric and composition administrators and all people involved in and impacted by higher education writ large. Ultimately, the collection authors work together to create a tapestry of application, both large and small, so that others might, too, find solidarity, education, and encouragement in their administrative change-making efforts.