Laura Sanders

Laura Sanders
Laura Sanders, Portland Community College

Project Summary

The Mellon Fellowship will enable me to create a robust, reusable course shell for the most-taught college class in the State of Oregon, a writing course that often creates barriers to success for students from marginalized communities.

Informed by best practices in Universal Design for Learning, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Digital Humanities, and Anti-Racist Writing Assessments, this course will also benefit instructors new to online learning or the practices listed above.

By encouraging students to investigate the process by which knowledge is created in the academy and in our culture, this class will empower them to challenge the credibility of authorities and “knowledge” that oppresses them by denying their voices and experiences.


Laura E. Sanders, Ph.D., teaches face-to-face and online composition courses at Portland Community College, where she also served as interim dean of the Liberal Arts & Pre-College Division.

HuMetrics values align with Laura’s work because of her interest in interrogating traditional academic practices as inherently oppressive by design. Centuries ago, colleges were established to serve wealthy, privileged students with very different experiences and resources than the students who enroll at community colleges and many universities today.

Many traditional practices around grading, attendance, and participation prioritize obedience to the instructor over helping students gain skills critical to their educational and career paths. Laura encourages her colleagues to challenge the notion that syllabi and classroom approaches are inherently neutral to all students, no matter their socioeconomic status, home language, or traumatic personal history.

Laura has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California (USC). She has over 25 years of teaching experience at colleges and universities as well as 4 years of experience as an interim division dean overseeing 21 disciplines.

Fueled by big ideas and a lot of coffee, she has a great deal of passion and energy for higher education as a tool for revitalizing communities and transforming the lives of students.