National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version


Document Type



In: Place, Self, Community: City as Text™ in the Twenty-First Century, Edited by Bernice Braid and Sara E. Quay. National Collegiate Honors Council, 2021.


© 2021 NCHC.


In spring 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Place as Text (PAT) Committee reimagined its longstanding City as Text™ (CAT) Faculty Institute model as an experimental virtual training titled “Reading the Local in the New Now” (RLNN). With the cancellation of two scheduled CAT Faculty Institutes because of the pandemic, the committee quickly shifted gears to develop and offer a fully online version of the program. Shorter in length, with participants joining from their homes across the country, the Institute was designed with key CAT principles as its foundation (Braid and Long; Long; Machonis). In this chapter, the RLNN facilitators outline how we conceived of and created the Institute, and we describe the participants’ processes of engaging with it. In retrospect, we realized how closely both groups—facilitators and participants—practiced mapping, observing, listening, and reflecting as an integral part of our co-engagement, illustrating how well these time-tested CAT strategies stand up to the challenges of our contemporary moment. At the same time, the historical context of this Institute meant that Reading the Local in the New Now Institute could not be identical to the Faculty Institute structures offered for over thirty years through NCHC. Necessitated by government-imposed restrictions, CDC and state health guidelines, higher education and K–12 policies, and personal and familial precautions, we were essentially called home to protect our communities. As a result, facilitators needed to adapt the well-established methods of place-based exploration to new strategies for exploring places as text. The changes strikingly revealed new possibilities for civic engagement.