Orange Alert

Mission and Vision: Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

Holding class outside on Shaw Quadrangle


The Writing Program envisions a diverse department that promotes the development of skills, practices, and knowledge about writing that are central to a just society.


The Writing Program promotes understanding and acquisition of multiple literacies through teaching, research, and community involvement. Thus the mission is four-fold:

  • We promote excellence in writing and rhetoric in the undergraduate program at SU
  • We produce innovative, high-quality research on composition and cultural rhetoric
  • We prepare graduate students in the Composition and Cultural Rhetoric Ph.D. Program for productive vocations as teachers, scholars, writers, and citizens.
  • And we develop sustained linkages with community groups to support writing and learning in the community and the society we live in.


The aims of the Writing Program are to do the following:

  1. Promote critical literacy in students to prepare them for an increasingly complex and multi-mediated world.
  2. Teach writing for a variety of contexts: academic, professional, and public.
  3. Provide a rigorous undergraduate composition curriculum that helps students develop skills in academic literacy, including critical reading, writing, analysis, argument, and research skills.
  4. Provide an undergraduate curriculum that teaches writing as a social practice, giving special attention to issues of diversity as they affect rhetorical practice.
  5. Provide a rigorous graduate curriculum that promotes thoughtful and critical inquiry into the history, theory, and practices of composition and cultural rhetoric.
  6. Create a teaching community that promotes excellence in innovative teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
  7. Create an inquiry-based teaching and learning environment.
  8. Create curricula at undergraduate and graduate levels that mutually enrich one another.
  9. Facilitate respectful and productive collaborations in teaching and research.
  10. Attract and retain a diverse, strong faculty and graduate student body.
  11. Serve the local and global communities by co-creating, disseminating, sharing, and applying knowledge.

Guiding Principles

  • We believe that all writing is culturally contextual, embedded in complicated networks of meaning, power, and technology.
  • We believe that all texts are composed within complex rhetorical situations comprised of rhetors, audience, exigencies, intentions, contexts, and other contingencies.
  • We believe that writing is a powerful intellectual tool and practice and that writing has the potential to be socially transformative.
  • We value the richness and interplay of differences, and are committed to intellectual, social, cultural, and ethnic diversity.
  • We believe in respectful critical dialogue within the community of students, faculty, and staff.
  • We believe that all teachers in the Writing Program—from full-time faculty to part-time faculty to graduate students—are integral to the success of our mission, and as such must be treated respectfully, fairly, and with dignity and must be compensated fairly for their contributions.
  • We believe in the value of including Writing Program teachers at all levels in discussions toward decision-making.
  • We believe in the importance of fostering dialogue across communities—academic and civic—about the purpose, meaning, and function of writing.

Approved by the Faculty, February 2005