About Us

Program for Writing & Rhetoric

Con­fer­ence pre­sented by the Pro­gram for Writ­ing and Rhetoric at the
Uni­ver­sity of Col­orado Boulder


The Writ­ing Ini­tia­tive for Ser­vice and Engage­ment (WISE)

Through the Pro­gram for Writ­ing and Rhetoric’s Writ­ing Ini­tia­tive for Ser­vice and Engage­ment (WISE), founded in 2008 by Veron­ica House, the pro­gram has inte­grated service-learning and com­mu­nity-engaged pedagogies through­out its lower– and upper-division writ­ing courses.  Cur­rently, more than 30 of PWR’s fac­ulty teach community-engaged writ­ing courses to over 800 stu­dents each year who spend over 15,000 on community-based writ­ing projects.

Stu­dents in WISE course sec­tions research and pro­duce writ­ten, spo­ken, dig­i­tal, and mul­ti­me­dia projects about, with, and for uni­ver­sity, non-profit, and for-profit agen­cies that deal with press­ing social issues such as lit­er­acy, poverty, food secu­rity, and envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice. Courses com­bine tra­di­tional aca­d­e­mic research and read­ings with relevant community-based work to enhance the edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence and encour­age stu­dents to under­stand real world appli­ca­tions of rhetor­i­cal sit­u­a­tions and the­o­ries. While WISE courses meet all tra­di­tional PWR course goals appro­pri­ate to the course num­ber, addi­tional learn­ing objec­tives might include that a stu­dent be able to:

  1. bal­ance the­ory and research with analy­sis of community-based experiences
  2. rec­og­nize and ana­lyze cor­re­la­tions between the­o­ret­i­cal con­cepts and com­mu­nity experiences
  3. pro­duce writ­ing that effec­tively responds to or addresses a com­mu­nity need
  4. dis­tin­guish indi­vid­ual man­i­fes­ta­tions of an issue from the sys­temic, root causes
  5. assess rhetor­i­cal cir­cum­stances in the pub­lic sphere and inter­vene appro­pri­ately through writ­ing and civic action
  6. cre­ate purpose-driven doc­u­ments for audi­ences beyond the classroom

The Pro­gram for Writ­ing and Rhetoric understands community-engaged pedagogy as a form of expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion that inte­grates aca­d­e­mic instruc­tion with edu­ca­tion­ally mean­ing­ful community-centered work that is appro­pri­ate to cur­ric­u­lar goals in order to enrich and enhance the learn­ing expe­ri­ence, teach civic engage­ment, and meet community-defined needs.

Why pro­mote community-based learning?

Fif­teen years of assess­ment on the aca­d­e­mic impacts of service-learning and other forms of community-based pedagogy in rhetoric and com­po­si­tion classes indi­cate that service-learning com­po­si­tion stu­dents demon­strate higher lev­els of rhetor­i­cal aware­ness, under­stand­ing of coun­ter­ar­gu­ments, under­stand­ing of how to tai­lor lan­guage to par­tic­u­lar con­texts and par­tic­u­lar audi­ences, and under­stand­ing of the com­plex­ity of argu­ments than do stu­dents in tra­di­tional com­po­si­tion courses.

Assess­ment stud­ies indi­cate that community-engaged learning aids in stu­dent recruit­ment, reten­tion, grad­u­a­tion rate, career pre­pared­ness, and job place­ment. Engaged stu­dents are more likely to remain in the state and donate to their alma mater at higher levels.

PWR courses that have con­tained a community-engaged com­po­nent include:

First-Year Writ­ing and Rhetoric; Grant Writ­ing; Busi­ness Writ­ing; Pro­fes­sional Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Design; Envi­ron­men­tal Writ­ing; Rhetorics of Sus­tain­abil­ity; Travel Writ­ing; Civic Engage­ment and New Media; Con­ver­sa­tions on the Law; Cross-Cultural Writ­ing for Inter­na­tional Stu­dents; Food and Cul­ture; Multi-Cultural Rhetorics; On the Boarder: U.S. and Mex­ico; Field Stud­ies in Civic Engage­ment; Then and Now: The West; Com­pos­ing a Civic Life

Learn more:

For exten­sive resources on design­ing a community-engaged writ­ing course, con­nect­ing to com­mu­nity part­ners, and pro­duc­ing schol­ar­ship of engage­ment, go to: http://www.colorado.edu/ArtsSciences/PWR/service_learning.html.