June 21, 2011
Twenty faculty members from four of St. John’s five undergraduate
schools are participating in the University’s third Summer Faculty Writing Institute, bringing
professors to the Paris, France, campus for workshops on helping
students in all majors improve their writing skills.
The ambitious program will take place July 31
through August 6 on the Paris, France, campus. (The 2007
and 2008 programs were held on the Rome,
Italy, Campus.) This summer, faculty will live in
the dorms for the first time
“While faculty writing workshops have become a staple at schools
with writing-across-the-disciplines programs, said Christopher
Thaiss, Coordinator of the International
Writing Across the Curriculum Network (INWAC.) “St.
John’s is the only institution that I am aware of that conducts
these workshops overseas.” INWAC is an association of teachers,
researchers and institutions worldwide who are involved in
interdisciplinary writing initiatives.
“Taking faculty abroad,” said Anne Geller, Ph.D., Associate Professor of
English and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, “is consistent
with the University’s commitment to expand global education. After
getting a taste of what it’s like to live and study abroad,
Institute participants have gone on to offer courses overseas.”
Dr. Geller’s article on the advantages of holding faculty
workshops overseas recently appeared in the scholarly journal FRONTIERS.
In addition to discussing St. John’s focus on global studies, she
also cites the fact that St. John’s combines a focus on improving
student writing with an opportunity for faculty to do their own
This fusion, she notes, unites their functions as scholars and
teachers. “We want faculty in the Summer Faculty Writing Institute
to feel we are encouraging them to bring these roles together.”
Institute applicants are asked to submit a description of a
current writing project along with a plan for redesigning a course
to make it more writing intensive or for creating a new,
“Faculty have raved about the Institute,” said Derek Owens, D.A., Vice Provost, Professor
of English and Executive Director of the Institute for Writing Studies. “They tell us
it results in interdisciplinary collaborations, immersion in best
writing practices and a first-hand study abroad experience.”
Barrett Brenton, Ph.D., Associate
Professor of Anthropology and St. John’s College Faculty
Coordinator for Academic
Service-Learning (ASL), is looking forward to peer
recommendations on how to explain what’s involved in writing about
ASL. “It takes a special kind of talent,” he said, “to be able to
explain this kind of assignment effectively,” he said.
Dr. Brenton is also grateful for the chance to receive feedback
on a book he is writing. “I welcome the opportunity to have my
peers in other disciplines to share how they transform
scholarly and scientific writing into accessible prose.”
Dr. Geller is again facilitating the Institute with Dr. Owens
and Harry Denny, Ph.D., Associate Professor of
English and Director of the University’s Writing
Centers. The facilitators are continually making
improvements to the program.
This summer, for example, in addition to faculty living on
campus for the first time, the agenda has been expanded to include
a discussion of the role that linguistic diversity plays in
teaching writing in a global environment.