Established in 2001, the Program for Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) is responsible for campus-wide instruction of writing. Drawing on the rich intellectual tradition of rhetoric and composition, our program integrates current research and best practices to provide students with rigorous and engaging courses that help them understand and apply rhetorical skills in their academic, civic, and professional lives as writers and active thinkers.

Our Courses

Through workshop style classes limited to 19 students, PWR courses emphasize the recursive nature of writing, offering students multiple avenues to explore, enhance and reflect on their own writing strategies and processes.

First–Year Writing and Rhetoric focuses on critical analysis, argument, inquiry, and information literacy. Students develop their rhetorical knowledge by analyzing texts from various genres, and 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 research–based essay with an academic audience or composing a multimodal text for a specific group of stakeholders. Students also develop their information literacy through our 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.

Our broad array of upper–division writing courses builds on the rhetorical skills of the first–year course. These advanced courses address writing in various disciplines, writing on interdisciplinary topics of special interest, and professional and technical writing. PWR upper–division 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.

Our Faculty

The PWR currently has five tenured or tenure–track faculty permanently rostered in the program, with their tenure homes in English and Communication. Our tenured/tenure–track 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, including work on curriculum, assessment, professional development, scholarly research, and various PWR projects. Our well–qualified lecturers teach both first–year and upper–division courses, as do our graduate student teachers, who come from a variety of disciplines and who receive training in pedagogical theory and practice through the PWR.

Our Writing Center

Our campus–wide Writing Center offers undergraduate and graduate students free one–hour consultations with our professional staff to support writing in all courses and for career preparation. The Writing Center also serves as the consulting arm of the PWR: we support faculty in various departments as they integrate writing into courses and curricula.

PWR Writing Foci

Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction is an important and integral part of the writing curriculum in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric. From helping students reflect on their experience and deepen their thinking, to encouraging them to engage the community and compose as public writers, creative nonfiction offers our students a uniquely vibrant, personal mode of writing that is engaged with developing a self-aware writer who actively explores the relationship between creativity and rhetoric. The PWR, leading the University of Colorado’s embrace of this “fourth genre,” is committed to developing this mode of writing as a conceptual and aesthetic form that is integral to writing on campus.

Digital Composition

The PWR encourages the creative application of digital media in the classroom. As a faculty we are committed to engaging deeply in the rich interdisciplinary discussions surrounding the use of digital technology as integral to student learning. We aim to match our long–term curricular vision for Digital Composition to the dynamic and expanding terrain of the digital environments in which our students participate. Our faculty regularly present at campus and national conferences on topics involving digital teaching and learning.


The PWR has won university–wide awards for its work related to diversity. We encourage openness and respect on campus and in the community and provide numerous opportunities for showcasing student writing on issues related to diversity. We offer a full range of diversity-related courses, including second-language writing, extended writing, and advanced courses at the lower- and upper-division levels. We have guarantee transfer agreements with other state institutions and a directed self–placement for incoming first–year students.


Through the PWR’s Writing Initiative for Service and Engagement (WISE), the program has integrated service-learning throughout our lower- and upper-division writing courses. Students in WISE course sections research and produce written, spoken, digital, and/or multimedia projects about, with, and/or for university, non-profit, 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 community-based work to enrich the educational experience and encourage students to understand real world applications of rhetorical situations and theories. We have been named a “Model Program” by the University’s Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement and were honored by Campus Compact as an “Engaged Program.”


The US’s first STARS gold member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the University of Colorado at Boulder is committed to sustainability in our practices as a campus, in our research, and in our curriculum. To further these goals, the Program for Writing and Rhetoric has dedicated itself to providing interested students with sustainability-based classes. We teach courses at the first-year and upper-division level that consider sustainability in various media: in print, on film, on the Web, in art, in fact, and in fiction. Over 20 PWR faculty integrate sustainability concerns into their courses. In April 2012, the Program for Writing and Rhetoric received the Campus Sustainability Award from CU's Environmental Center. Members of the PWR faculty participate in CU’s Peak-to Peak-Project, a campus-wide network of teachers and scholars working to integrate sustainability themes into courses across the disciplines.