The Center for Literacy Studies (CLS) is located within the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.  Founded in 1988, the Center's original charge was to link interdisciplinary efforts within the University with practitioners in the field of adult literacy. The Center has expanded this charge to include lifelong literacy and links theory and practice through research, professional development, partnerships, and building and sharing the knowledge of the field.

From its beginning, the Center has used a broad definition of literacy and looked beyond traditional conceptions of academic research and service. We determine the direction of our work by listening to and learning from practitioners, policymakers, business leaders and community leaders, as well as the academic community. CLS has established a pattern of work that has continued throughout its history - one of collaboration, participation, and intellectual rigor.

Over the years, the common themes of the Center's work have remained constant:

  • Building capacity to develop a system of literacy provision that can meet the needs of a changing society.
  • Creating new and innovative approaches to providing professional development, conducting research, disseminating the findings, capitalizing on new technologies, and systematically documenting and sharing what works.
  • Developing partnerships with organizations and individuals to share the best practices in literacy education.
  • Involving practitioners and learners in training, research, and evaluation of learning.

The Center for Literacy Studies works actively with other state and national organizations. Innovative research, innovative professional development opportunities, use of cutting-edge technology, and the provision of thorough technical assistance have given the Center a respected position in the field of literacy education.