The Program for Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) at the University of Colorado Boulder is an active community of teachers and scholars committed to making writing central to the undergraduate education of CU Boulder students. The department trains students to think critically about reading and guides them to produce writing that effectively shapes and expresses ideas in any context, whether it is academic, civic, professional or personal. Through small class sizes and intensive workshops that focus on substantive revision, PWR students refine and advance compositional and rhetorical skills that they will use inside and outside the classroom.
Established in 2001, the PWR is responsible for campuswide instruction of writing. The program coordinates and oversees all writing curricula and instruction intended to meet college and campus core requirements, including writing courses in specific disciplines and in targeted campus programs, such as CU’s Residential Academic Programs; as such, faculty in the program teach over 8,000 undergraduates each year. Many PWR faculty are actively involved within the program, across the campus and in the Boulder community in innovative curriculum development that enhances the teaching of writing.
In the required First–Year Writing and Rhetoric course, students learn critical analysis, argument, inquiry and information literacy. They also develop their rhetorical knowledge by analyzing texts from various genres. Then, through a variety of writing assignments, students apply this knowledge by adapting their writing to the specific rhetorical situation, whether it’s writing a researchbased essay with an academic audience or composing a multimodal text for a specific group of stakeholders. Students develop their information literacy through the PWR’s partnership with CU's libraries, learning through online tutorials and in library seminars strategies for finding and evaluating sources and then effectively and ethically integrating these materials into their own work.
PWR also offers a broad array of upperdivision writing courses that build on the rhetorical skills of the firstyear course. These advanced courses address writing in various disciplines, writing on interdisciplinary topics of special interest and professional and technical writing. PWR upperdivision courses help students link the disciplinary knowledge acquired in their majors to issues of broad public importance. These courses stress the advanced rhetorical skills needed to address specific disciplinary, professional and civic audiences.
The PWR currently has five tenured or tenuretrack faculty permanently rostered in the program, with their tenure homes in the Departments of English and Communication. The faculty include nationally recognized scholars and writers whose research and writing enhances the courses they teach and the growth and development of the program. Senior instructors and instructors teach and contribute substantive service to the program and the campus, as evidenced by their work on curriculum, assessment, professional development, scholarly research and various PWR projects.
The campuswide Writing Center offers undergraduate and graduate students free one-hour consultations with professional staff to support writing in all courses and for career preparation. The Writing Center also serves as the consulting arm of the PWR, supporting faculty in various departments as they integrate writing into courses and curricula.
The PWR has won universitywide awards for its work related to diversity. The program encourages openness and respect on campus and in the community and provides numerous opportunities for showcasing student writing on issues related to diversity. A full range of diversityrelated courses are offered, including secondlanguage writing, extended writing and advanced courses at the lower and upperdivision levels.
The program also has guarantee transfer agreements with other state institutions and a directed selfplacement for incoming firstyear students.
Through the PWR’s Writing Initiative for Service and Engagement (WISE), the program has integrated servicelearning throughout lower and upperdivision writing courses. Students in WISE course sections research and produce written, spoken, digital and/or multimedia projects about, with and/or for university, nonprofit or governmental agencies that deal with pressing social issues such as literacy, poverty, food security and environmental justice. Courses combine traditional academic research and readings with communitybased work to enrich the educational experience and encourage students to understand real world applications of rhetorical situations and theories. PWR has been named a “model program” by the university’s Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement and was also honored by Campus Compact as an “engaged program.”