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Informing Assumptions

The fundamental informing assumptions of Writing Across the Curriculum that drive this strategic plan are as follows:

  1. Writing is a vital mode of learning. In the academic environment, writing promotes intellectual engagement, active learning and critical thinking.
  2. Learning to write is a life-long process. It is never mastered completely, not by anyone.
  3. All academic disciplines and their related professions have specific discourse conventions particular to knowledge, understanding, and communication in their fields.
  4. University faculty, as teachers, experienced writers, and experts in their fields, are best situated to help students acquire the skills of the particular discourse conventions of their disciplines.
  5. Because the teaching of writing can present distinct pedagogical and logistical challenges, it is the responsibility of the WAC program to provide faculty with ongoing assistance and support as needed. Part of this support may be to assist faculty in articulating their own specific educational goals, to discover how writing can contribute to the hopes they have for their students, to adopt the pedagogical strengths of WAC in ways that are intellectually and professionally meaningful and appropriate within their own disciplines.
  6. Writing Across the Curriculum is more transformative than additive. It does not necessarily call for faculty to put more work into their teaching so much as it invites modification of teaching practices.
  7. Writing Across the Curriculum does not and can not exist as an insular entity. It shares many goals with the faculty, other branches of Library and Technology Services, and other programs and initiatives of the university at large. Therefore, partnership and collaboration are fundamental to WAC as an effective agent of easing the constraints imposed on learning by traditional disciplinary and departmental/institutional boundaries.
  8. In particular, Writing Across the Curriculum shares a common goal with the First-Year Writing Program. Essentially, both programs are devoted to students’ development as writers and the centrality of writing to learning in the undergraduate experience at Lehigh.
  9. Though Writing Across the Curriculum is primarily a concern of faculty development, it is also connected in vital ways to the curriculum and other matters of university policy. The ultimate success of WAC will be affected substantially by practices, policies, and decisions that transpire beyond the domain of Faculty Development Library and Technology Services.
  10. Therefore, WAC must actively seek guidance from across of the Lehigh community in proposing such changes and initiatives that are in the best interests of Lehigh students.
  11. When students improve as communicators, they become better not only at writing and speaking, but at reading and listening as well. They learn that effective communication includes not only skills of explanation and persuasion, but also the willingness and ability to empathize and understand, to collaborate, to acknowledge, appreciate and assimilate new, strange, and even opposing views. This is why Aristotle called rhetoric the highest “intellectual virtue.” With a successful Writing Across the Curriculum program, Lehigh will prepare students to compete in a global culture while they also acquire the skills and motivation they will need to make the world a better place.