Welcome to your New College Writing Program!
This writing course might well be different than others you have taken previously and from what you expected. We will proceed grounded in the idea that research and writing are powerful social tools central to work in the university, but far beyond that, understanding that writing, reading, and research are indispensable for addressing the most pressing of problems and the most promising opportunities that emerge locally, nationally, and globally.
The course begins with you choosing a direction for inquiry, that is, a rigorous, research-based investigation of an issue or situation. Rather than approach such issues generally, summarizing, thinking and writing in broad strokes, students will dig deep, developing a sharply focused research question to serve as your guiding star for the semester.
Let’s begin with a definition of inquiry from the Oxford English Dictionary:
The process or "act" of discovery sketched in this definition is a hallmark of the intellectual culture within the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Open and honest inquiry is at the core of engaged learning and our intellectual values. Consider this descriptive passage about New College:
New College programs emphasize experiential learning that spans academic disciplines and encourages an appreciation for all forms of creativity, and each program provides study and exploration that fosters a deeper understanding of the diversity and interdependent nature of the human experience.
A curriculum that supports a compassionate and creative approach to the complexities of real-world challenges is a hallmark of the New College. In carefully crafting courses for these degrees, the nationally acclaimed ASU New College faculty is committed to developing programs that teach students to nurture and expand their intellectual curiosity.
As part of the New College, this writing course introduces student to that intellecutal culture.
We believe that all of the goals stated above—experiential learning; fostering deeper understanding; creative approaches; and, expanding intellectual curiosity—are all best accomplished through writing. “Writing is you thinking,” as Dr. Arthur Sabatini, Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Associate Professor puts it.
Thinking and writing your way through this course, we want you to remember that you are doing far more than cranking out papers or fulfilling a university requirement. All of us committed to the New College mission are dedicated to helping students become lifelong learners and critical thinkers who will be successful in careers and in other individual endeavors. Beyond this, however, we hope the New College will increasingly become a place where students gain the insight and creativity to be leaders in the university and far beyond it. Our ambition is to help students gain research and writing skills that provide them with the means of making real and positive change in the world.
To affect this kind of change, you must decide what you care about enough to investigate as a researcher and a writer. This, in fact, is your first challenge. What issues are relevant or crucial to you, to friends, family, and others who are important to you? We advise against making any snap decisions here, and we will spend significant time thinking and talking about how to make a choice that will keep you motivated, even excited, about your course work this semester.
A couple of suggestions before we begin: Talk to your instructor! Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. Let your instructor know if you are struggling with some aspect of the coursework. It should come as no surprise that in a course dedicated to effective communication, successful learning will depend upon frequent and open dialogue among students and instructors.
Finally, keep in mind that if the work of this course seems challenging, you’re probably going about it the right way! In fact, we recognize that little about effective writing is simple or easy. What you gain, however, will be worth the effort. Our hope is to inspire a particular outlook and attitude about research and writing, one based on intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and open-mindedness, and a commitment to doing the work you decide is most important.
Click here to access Writing to Learn: A Framework.