We hope you agree that writing instruction is among the most important responsibilities taken on by college and university faculty. Perhaps, like us, you tell your students at the beginning of the semester that their first-year composition courses are crucial to their success at Arizona State University. Our approach to this important task draws its inspiration and much of its method from the work many of you are already doing, and have done for years. So in addition to welcoming you, we wholeheartedly thank you.
This curriculum is meant to support courses rich in opportunities for inquiry, critical thinking, and a range of compositional challenges. It is designed to support WAC 101, ENG 101, ENG 102, and ENG 105. These instructional pieces, exercises, and assignments can be adapted for face-to-face or hybrid courses. You will also find additional information for your courses in the New College Writing Program Blackboard Site. You are encouraged to combine, organize and supplement these materials as you see fit.
At its core, this curriculum challenges students to pursue rigorous research and writing about high-impact issues. We begin with the premise that first-year students can successfully meet the intellectual challenges of critical inquiry from which they are sheltered by many first-year writing curricula. For quite a few years now, scholars and teachers have been working within what is often referred to as the “public turn” in composition, and that body of work has certainly influenced our own approach.
The intellectual environment of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences also figures prominently in our pedagogical orientation. While the scholarly conversation regarding interdisciplinarity is vast and complex, some essential tenets provide a clear path for student research and writing. Inexperienced though they may be, our students will pursue interdisciplinary methods of inquiry. We hope to present interdisciplinarity as a rich field of resources for addressing the questions, issues and problems that arise in the world. This action-oriented definition of interdisciplinarity takes seriously the mission of Arizona State University that commits intellectual endeavor to social engagement and the public good.
Our vision is that students pursue relevant work on real-world issues and problems, hereby inviting them to approach academic research and writing as powerful and relevant social practices. Organized according to tenets of project-based learning and rhetorical instruction, our courses prepare students for academic work, draw from a deeper intellectual well, and anchor a lifelong process of literacy acquisition. We hope in other words to teach students a holistic disposition toward rhetoric and composition rather than a simple set of skills. This curriculum, then, continues in the tradition of writing instruction that already exists in the New College, which, in fact, many of you reading this help to create every semester!
We encourage instructors to foster a course ethos of experimentation, in other words, to create a learning environment that is both critical and creative in its approach to writing and research. Like any lab, this workspace is not cut off from the world but in fact responds directly to questions and challenges that emerge in the world.
As you make your way through this curriculum and your writing courses, we would greatly appreciate your feedback. Flexibility of format allows us to revise as often as necessary, so please, give us marching orders for an updated version. As writing faculty in the New College, you are our best resource for teaching excellence. Enjoy your classes, and please let us know how it’s going.
We also recommend finding other open-source materials for your course. In the Resoures section at this site, we offer some suggestions. One excellent source is the Writing Commons, which collects brief articles on a wide range of topics in writing, reading, and research. The hosts of the Writing Commons call the site "a community of writers, teachers, and researchers who are passionate about helping people realize their potential as writers, collaborators, researchers, and thinkers." Yes, indeed, in the New College Writing Program, this is our mission too!