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History

The Department of Writing Studies in the College of Liberal Arts was formed through a merger of several previously existing writing and communication programs and departments and opened officially in 2007. We are an academic department rich in teaching experience and research expertise in rhetoric, writing, and technical communication, with 12 tenured/tenure track faculty, 20+ full-time instructors, and many talented graduate instructors. We offer degrees including the BS, MS, MA, and PhD. We also offer an undergraduate minor, undergraduate certificate, and a post-baccalaureate certificate.

Mission

The Department of Writing Studies seeks to understand the social, disciplinary, and rhetorical functions of written, visual, digital, scientific, and technical communication practices. Through our research, degree programs, and courses—as well as our outreach to the University and communities outside the University—we investigate the intersections of communication with culture, politics, science, technology, and ethics. In all our educational programs, we strive to foster our students' critical-thinking skills as well as their sense of personal, professional, and civic responsibility.

Faculty, staff, and students in the department examine how knowledge is created, understood, disseminated, and debated by experts and the public in historical and contemporary contexts. For instance, we develop new knowledge about the links among writing, critical reading, critical thinking, and audience awareness. We examine the history of writing from its origins and explore the possibilities of written communication in traditional and emerging media. We study writing and communication with an eye toward encouraging effective and responsible communication. We also analyze persuasive techniques and the social, linguistic, and cognitive processes that make communication a dynamic, exciting, and often unsettling activity.

As a department, we value a multidisciplinary approach to research, teaching, and service; we uphold the principles of academic freedom and integrity; we respect and foster diversity in all its forms; and we strive to provide a collegial and supportive environment for our faculty, staff, and students.