Writing Across the Curriculum

The CUNY Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines (WAC/WID) program is a remarkable project that brings together faculty and graduate students from across the University in a system-wide effort to strengthen the writing of CUNY’s nearly quarter of a million undergraduates. 

Conceived in England in the late 1970s, WAC effected an important change in higher education by promoting the teaching of writing as the responsibility of the entire academic community—and not the sole domain of the English department. Writing in the Disciplines emerged as a corollary to WAC, with an insistence that writing is shaped by disciplinary perspectives and discourse conventions. The WAC/WID program at CUNY began with a 1999 Board of Trustees Resolution designed “to ensure that writing instruction is regarded as a common responsibility and that the development of writing proficiency becomes a focus of the entire undergraduate curriculum.”

By instituting Writing Intensive (WI) criteria as college policy, John Jay is committing to the university’s initiative of Writing across the Curriculum and Writing in the Disciplines. We can then guarantee to our students that we have provided them with ample opportunity and exposure to the high-level literacy abilities that they will need to continue to higher degrees and/or to compete in the job market. 

By having official requirements, the College ensures that the designation is used consistently and that courses that carry it merit being called “Writing Intensive”. A student registering for a WI course will understand the demands of the course and, thus, must invest in the requirements explicitly mandated by college policy. Consequently, we are able to work towards ensuring that all of our WI-designated courses give the students the writing experience that they deserve. 

This program is coordinated by the WAC Coordinator, Prof. Tara Pauliny. She holds a PhD in English Composition and Rhetoric, and has been teaching writing for over a dozen years. The proposal to establish requirements for Writing Intensive courses at the College was prepared and submitted by Prof. Mark McBeth, Deputy Chair of Writing Programs/English, José Luis Morín, Interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies, and Kevin Murtagh, CUNY Writing Fellow, and approved in 2008.