BCC Launches Writing Across the Curriculum Philosophy

Berkshire Community College (BCC), in recognition of a national movement that underscores the writing process as essential to all kinds of learning, has formally adopted a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) initiative. BCC recently welcomed its first full-time Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum, Liesl Schwabe, who arrived from Yeshiva University, where she directed the writing program for seven years and taught for 15.

Together with Academic Assembly leadership, department chairs and faculty, Schwabe is developing a program that is both in line with national best practices and tailored to BCC's faculty expertise and student needs.

Clear and effective writing is a shared priority, something all faculty value and expect from their students. As such, the underpinning of any WAC philosophy is to ensure that, throughout any student's time on campus, there is an ongoing opportunity to utilize writing as a means of engagement and reflection.

Liesl Schwabe

Liesl Schwabe

WAC programs seek to move away from the notion that writing is something that only happens in the first academic year or only in English classes, Schwabe explained. Instead, WAC initiatives encourage all faculty to teach from their own experience with an understanding of writing in their fields.

"In addition to deepening memory, transfer and comprehension, writing within different disciplines empowers students to understand — and participate in — these larger conversations and avenues of discourse," Schwabe said. “The more students develop an awareness of varied genres and situations, the more equipped they become to make deliberate, effective choices in all of their writing."

At BCC, the two-semester Composition sequence works to ensure that students can "analyze and evaluate texts to identify purpose, audience and rhetorical situation," meaning that most students have some experience with and exposure to the concept of “rhetorical flexibility." The new WAC initiative looks to build on that foundation by integrating more writing and more writing instruction, in individual classrooms, across departments and divisions, and in support of meaningful dialogue — locally, nationally and globally.

"BCC is now in the early stages of envisioning how these concepts can be meaningfully braided into the curriculum and to continue to foster a culture of reading, writing and critical thinking, here on campus and beyond," Schwabe said.