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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Antiracist WAC Toolkit

Syracuse University’s Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program is committed to supporting the teaching and learning of writing in all disciplines across campus. Our goal is to help and support instructors in developing strategies to teach writing in disciplinary courses, generating ideas for using writing as a tool for learning, designing writing-intensive courses, revising syllabi to integrate writing more purposefully into teaching, and implementing culturally inclusive antiracist writing practices. The Writing Across Curriculum program at Syracuse University supports faculty in developing antiracist writing instruction and assessment practices.

Our program challenges the traditional notion of WAC as an assimilationist process by using WAC as a way to subvert academic discourse that upholds white supremacist ideologies of language. Our work builds on theories that support multilingual writers and that promote antiracist assessment strategies as we see such work as an integral part of writing across the curriculum. WAC takes place through both the department and its Writing Center. It consists of a range of programs that include the WAC Faculty Fellows Initiative, Writing Center, Reimagining Student Writing Symposium and Workshop Series, and the developing CNY (Central New York) Humanities Corridor Antiracist Writing Across Curriculum Working Group.

The program demonstrates a commitment to curricular and pedagogical innovations. At its center is the Fellows program, an initiative that provides stipends for faculty to develop course redesigns that will integrate writing to learn strategies in their courses. Faculty members and doctoral students in the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition serve as resources to support the work of WAC fellows. Since its launch in 2018, the program has not only enhanced the academic experiences of students enrolled in the classes taught by WAC Fellows, but it has also created a network of faculty members who can share strategies for promoting active learning through writing across disciplines.

One of its many innovative contributions centers on how it has addressed our current moment and location by integrating research in Writing Across the Curriculum with antiracist pedagogy and practices. Over the past few years, Syracuse University has been plagued by a series of racial incidents that have sparked protests and investigations. Pedagogically, there is consensus that there needs to be greater attention to how we teach our courses, including the practices and methods we employ to teach and access writing. Syracuse University’s Writing Across the Curriculum has created an honest, challenging, yet supportive space where faculty can rethink pedagogical assumptions about writing and confront implicit biases than can emerge in writing assignments and assessment.

Antiracist WAC is not a “quick fix,” but an initiative that requires sustained conversations among faculty that extend beyond a single workshop or consultation; therefore, our WAC Fellows are in our program for one year. They complete a series of workshops that cover the follow topics:

  • Antiracist pedagogy
  • Writing to Learn
  • Student Portfolios
  • Rubrics and Assessment (labor-based contracts, community rubric building, etc)
  • Writing assessment ecologies
  • Syllabi
  • Implicit v Explicit Language
  • Equity and Access
  • Genre Analysis

After the workshops, the Fellows revise their syllabi and assessment tools. The WAC team provides feedback in one-on-one sessions. During the following semester(s), when the Fellows are teaching the courses, the WAC team completes observations and reports on faculty progress. The Fellowship concludes with the Fellows giving a presentation about their new courses at our annual Reimagining Student Writing symposium.

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