The WPE minor is designed to help students hone the rhetorical arts of persuasive writing and public engagement. Through a variety of courses offered through PWR and English, students will find opportunities to write in diverse genres for diverse purposes and public audiences; leverage a wide variety of digital technologies to design, produce, and distribute multimodal compositions; write in professional settings and with community partners; and write collaboratively for social change. From forwarding public arguments to designing social media content to composing for non‐profits, this minor will enable students to learn valuable skills, practices, and tools for creating, participating, and connecting as active technocitizens in the 21st century.

Contact or for more information about this minor.

  1. Earn 18 credits in ENGL and WRTG courses with grades of C- or better, at least 12 credits of which must be in upper division.
  2. Students may apply no more than 9 credit hours of transfer work, including no more than 6 upper division credit hours, towards a minor. This is a college residency rule for an 18 credit minor.

  3. Students may apply one lower or upper division Creative Writing or Literature ENGL course of their choice to count towards the minor for Writing and Public Engagement. A list of recommended courses is offered below.

  4. Students must maintain at least a 2.00 (C) GPA in all courses counting toward the WPE minor.

  5. All courses for the Writing and Public Engagement minor must be in English and PWR.

  6. English majors (Creative Writing or Literature and Cultural Studies) are not eligible to declare an English minor.


To complete the Writing and Public Engagement Minor, all students must:

  1. Complete the following Prerequisite for Minor:

    Meet the 3 credit lower division Written Communication Requirement as required by all schools and colleges at CU Boulder.

  2. Complete 9 required credits in the following way: (NOTE: When registering, please look for WPE designation for the topic courses listed above to make sure they count for the minor. You can also find a list of courses that count toward the minor each semester listed below.)


    THEORY: 3 CREDITS (Choose one of the following courses)

    WRTG 2090: Electives in Writing: Writing and Public Engagement

    ENGL 3377: Literatures of Race, Multiculturalism, Ethnicity


    PRACTICE: 3 CREDITS (Choose one of the following courses)

    ENGL 3856: Topics in Genre Studies

    WRTG 3020: Topics in Writing

    ENGL 3830: Topics in Advanced Writing and Research


    ACTION: 3 CREDITS (Choose one of the following courses)

    ENGL 4206: Writing for the Real World

    ENGL 4116: Advanced Topics in Media Studies

    ENGL 3940: Service Learning Practicum


  3. Complete 9 credits in minor electives in one of the following ways:

  • Choose 9 credits from any of the courses listed above not being used to fill the Theory, Practice, or Action requirements.

  • Choose 6 credits from any of the courses listed above not being used to fill the Theory, Practice, or Action requirements and 3 credits of any other ENGL courses (see recommended courses below.)

ENGL 1800: American Ethnic Literatures

ENGL 2036: Introduction to Media Studies in the Humanities

ENGL 2046: Future Histories of Technologies

ENGL 2707: Introduction to Queer Literature

ENGL 2717: American Indian Literature

ENGL 2727: Introduction to African American Literature

ENGL 2747: Introduction to Chicana/o/x Literature

ENGL 2767: Race, Empire, and the Postcolonial

ENGL 3005: Literature of New World Encounters

ENGL 3006: Digital Editions & Web Publishing

ENGL 3106: Introduction to Literary Study with Data Science

ENGL 3026: Syntax, Citation, and Analysis: Writing About Literature (recommended prerequisite: completion of lower-division writing requirement.)

ENGL 3246: Topics in Popular Culture

ENGL 3031: Studies in Creative Writing for Nonmajors (prerequisite: ENGL 1191: Introduction to Creative Writing)

ENGL 3767: Feminist Fictions

ENGL 3796: Queer Theory

ENGL 4018: Literature and Globalization

ENGL 4106: Literary Study with Data Science (recommended prerequisite: ENGL 3106)


From the Greensboro sit-ins in the 1960s to the 1980s pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing to the recent Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives protests, young people have long been at the forefront of civic activism. This course explores what it means to be critically engaged in public activism in the 21st century. With full acknowledgment that public activism is a highly contentious and contested struggle about rights, responsibilities, and opportunities, this course asks a number of important questions: What are the most effective means to public engagement? What barriers to civic engagement exist for some rather than others? Depending on one’s positionality and status, what available means are at our disposal to actively participate in collective life? And how can we write and design our way toward meaningful social change?

In this course, we will take up such questions as we consider the relationship between rhetoric, writing, bodies, agency, and public life. For the purposes of this course, we may commonly agree that public engagement refers to actions taken by individuals concerned with the affairs of a community, state, nation, or world. But we may not agree whose voices deserve to be heard, what actions are appropriate for public engagement, and/or how systems impacting collective life (government, economy, etc.) ought to be maintained. This course is your opportunity to weigh in on such discussions, as we engage with various theories, perspectives, and political activities to study how public engagement has been and continues to be enacted, challenged, and transformed both from within and beyond the United States.

One of the goals of this course is to introduce you to a body of diverse rhetorical and critical theories that will provide a strong conceptual foundation for defining, interrogating, and reimagining engaged activism. Therefore, we will read and consider the critical cultural perspectives of diverse scholars stemming from various locations, time periods, and fields of study that will introduce you to competing notions of publics, civic/civil/human rights, persuasion, power, activism, and resistance. In wrestling with such material, you will develop your own working definition of and vision for public engagement, a definition that is grounded in theories from the course but unique to your positionality, experiences, motivations, desires, etc.

After developing your own notions about public engagement during the first part of the semester, you will decide on a pressing social issue to focus on for the rest of the semester. Through analysis, discussion, and formal writing, we will compare and contrast how various people, organizations, and communities have attempted to address pressing social issues through various rhetorical tactics. Then, you will spend the remainder of the semester focused on addressing a social issue of your choice by proposing a speculative idea for public engagement that aligns with your own visions of rhetorical action. Your final project will be a TED Talk with an accompanying multimodal presentation intended for a public audience.

WRTG 3020: COMPOSING CIVIC LIFE, Dr. John Ackerman

Go ahead!  Search “Civility in the United States” and you will find countless assessments that the basic civilities of listening, patience, and tolerance are declining with numerous authorities to blame: facts are now political fodder; information travels faster than evidence; and social anxiety sells band width.  Our course begins with a brief historical review of public life presumed to be required in a liberal democracy; then then we turn to our civic lives in the Boulder community.  We compose ‘civic life’ by living in residence, which in turn points us to the twin horns of civility—we enjoy a civil society when people work from common awareness, respect, and a commitment to the common good (not easy to achieve), and civic life speaks to our common experience in an urban environment—the city.  You and I by virtue of our residency in Boulder and along the front range of Colorado are the subject matter for this course, as it will be our actions, our voices, our movements, and occupations that provide the evidence for your compositions.  Along the way, we will visit recent and future debates over the future of campus and the city: the 2020 “party” on the Hill; mass violence in word and deed (e.g., King Soopers shooting), and the unfolding “CU Boulder South Annexation.”  We will do our work by walking, convening, listening and “giving ground” as well as claiming it.  Our writing will be observational, analytic, and speculative as we cover topics such as the will to speak, the commons, terra nullius, strangers and settlers among us, and emplacement.  Bring sensible shoes, and if mobility is a problem, please let me know in advance.


Kendall Leon has articulated "Chicana" as a rhetorical term: "Chicana/o/[x] people created 'Chicano' identity to speak to the experiences of living in the United States with a connection to a Latino/a/[x] background, and for most, recognizing an indigenous connection as well” (which terms like Hispanic and Latin American erase). In other words, while identities like Hispanic and Latino were created for census data, identities like Chicana are intentional and were created from within the community to account for the breadth of Chicana lived experience. 

Chicana rhetorics, then, are the rhetorical strategies and concepts that communities who identify as Chicana use to create community identity as well as to cultivate social and political change. In this course, we will primarily (though not exclusively) trace Chicana rhetorics through the history of radio/podcasting forms of public engagement, and the final (group) project for the class will be to create a podcast. Ultimately, our goal will be to better understand how Chicanas have contributed to larger social and political movements into the present day.


Claims to civil rights and human rights have been some of the most transformative and visible means of fighting racism.  But what racial freedoms and capacities are limited or left out by civil and human rights claims?  How do civil and human rights shape our ideas of race, and how are rights shaped by race?  How are Indigenous rights and other group rights aligned or undermined by the intersections of race and rights?  What is “race,” anyway? 

We will explore these questions through literature and other cultural works from the nineteenth century through the present.  Although our focus will be on U.S. culture and history, we will necessarily study them in relation to Indigenous, hemispheric, and global frameworks.  A proposition of this class is that literature and culture are crucial sites for engendering critical and creative perspectives on the way things are, and the way things could otherwise be.   

The works we study might include Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson (1893), James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), Oscar Zeta Acosta, Revolt of the Cockroach People (1973), Janet Campbell Hale, The Jailing of Cecelia Capture (1985), Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel (2010), and the TV series The Wire

Through class discussion, oral presentations, and public-facing as well as college essay writing, you will develop your skills in critical thinking, argumentation, and literary, cultural, and genre analysis.

To recieve additional information on the WPE minor, please fill out the survey below:

WPE Minor Interest Form