Khirsten Scott

Faculty Member Khirsten L. Scott Receives National Award for Community Engagement

Khirsten L. Scott, assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project (WPWP), was awarded the 2024 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement

This national award, presented by Campus Compact in partnership with Brown University’s Swearer Center, recognizes early-career faculty who practice exemplary engaged scholarship through teaching and research. Scott joins a prestigious group of 34 Lynton Award winners selected from over 1,000 nominations since the award’s inception in 1996.

The Lynton Award honors Scott’s work around establishing and maintaining networks and using writing as a tool for change within communities of Black girls and women, educators and students, and HBCUs. It also recognizes her support and advocacy for other community-engaged colleagues at Pitt. 

“Being in community and cultivating community have been a part of my social, cultural, and historical existence,” says Scott. “As a Black woman nurtured within diverse communities, including faith communities, a supportive village of loving family, and the guidance of community educators at various life stages, I have personally experienced and observed the profound impact of community as a transformative force in navigating the complexities of life and evolving alongside fellow individuals.”

Scott’s community engagement work spans multiple organizations and initiatives. As director of WPWP, she aims to improve the teaching and learning of writing in schools and communities throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. Under her leadership, WPWP is shaping a community of “teachers teaching teachers” that works across disciplines, fosters educator leadership, and aims to diminish hierarchies.

Scott is also the lead organizer and facilitator of Homewood Youth-Powered and Engaged (HYPE) Media, a digital literacy program for high school girls from the Pittsburgh Public School’s Westinghouse Academy. In partnership with the Center for Urban Education and the Pitt School of Social Work, HYPE focuses on youth-led storymaking possibilities that respond to stigmatized narratives of Black girls, Black women, and Black communities. 

Additionally, Scott is co-founder and director of Digital Black Lit(-eracies and -eratures) and Composition (DBLAC), a learning community and intellectual project committed to Black knowledge-making and sharing. Since 2017, DBLAC has offered writing groups, retreats, programs, and events that provide writing help, mentorship, networking, and resource-pooling for Black graduate students and scholars across disciplines. 

“What brings these projects together is the emphasis on cultivating and sustaining networks of learners,” says Scott. “Centering the practice of writing as a liberatory experience can prompt layers of change. Within many of our lives, specifically the lives of educators, writing is the single most transferable and consistent activity in which we all engage.”

Scott’s academic background is rooted in rhetorical and writing studies with a focus on Black studies and Black feminist traditions. She joined the University of Pittsburgh in 2018, first serving as an assistant professor for the Department of English in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences before joining the School of Education in 2022.

“It is clear that Dr. Scott is making a significant impact through public service within Pitt and across the region,” said Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, Pitt Education’s Renée and Richard Goldman Interim Dean, in a letter nominating Scott for the award. “Her work showcases her passion for fostering people’s stories, perspectives, experiences, and knowledge so that they can transform their communities, cities, regions, and beyond. She is a shining example of our School’s mission to learn with and from communities, to commit to educational equity, and to ignite learning and strive for well-being for all.”

Scott says she is grateful for the leaders across Pitt who have supported her work, including colleagues across several schools and in the Office of Research, Office of Community Engagement, Provost’s Office, and Center for Urban Education.

“What inspires me to keep doing this work is the ways that folks have rallied behind me and pushed me to stay motivated, supportive, and be in community to ensure that the work is moved forward,” says Scott. “My colleagues have been essential to this work, including the collaborators, thought partners, reviewers, and students who have contributed to many projects.” 

When reflecting on the Lynton Award, Scott says the recognition is a valuable affirmation of her commitments and the work ahead.

“Oftentimes, the work of community engagement is full and busy and filled with so many connection points,” she says. “Taking a moment to pause and look back at the work that I’ve done and think about where that work is heading has been a meaningful point of reflection.”

Jamilah Ducar
Jamilah Ducar

Campus Compact also recognized Jamilah Ducar, a 2022 Doctor of Education (EdD) graduate of the Pitt School of Education, with the 2024 Nadinne Cruz Community Engagement Professional Award. Ducar, who serves as the executive director of the engaged campus in Pitt’s Office of Engagement and Community Affairs, was recognized for her campus- and field-wide efforts and commitment to collaborating with communities to create transformative change.




Learn More

Scott serves as the director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, a teacher-centered, teacher-led professional development program that serves educators, schools, and students in western Pennsylvania. Learn more on the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project website.