Writing Across Communities

What We Do

Writing Across Communities at St. John’s University encourages and supports faculty and students who strive to use writing to sustain diverse academic, cultural, civic, and professional communities across and beyond the university.

Writing Across Communities Mission

As a program, we are committed to these Writing Across Communities principles:

"First, the WACommunities approach regards language and literacy as human processes integral to building and maintaining human communities (cultural rhetorical ecologies). Second, it recognizes language diversity as a reflection of rich cultural connections locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Third, it adopts the notion that the acquisition of academic literacy (and of standardized edited American English) should enhance students’ communicative resources, not erase them. Finally, it advocates culturally responsive approaches to literacy education across and beyond the curriculum" (Kells 2018).

Here are some ways to think about and apply these principles to teaching, learning, and communicating. Engagement with these principles is an opportunity for ongoing learning. Download PDF

"Where We Write" Map

This map is a visual collection of all the places SJU students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community write. We encourage you to contribute to our map here

Contact Us

Tamara Issak
Director of Writing Across CommunitiesInstitute for Core Studies
[email protected]

An SJU student facilitates a writing group with young female high school students


Join us on a journey through the stories that make our department truly exceptional as we shine a spotlight on the people, projects, and progress that elevate us to new heights.

History of Writing Across Communities

Writing Across Communities began in 2007 as Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and was housed within St. John's Institute for Writing Studies. For eleven years, WAC has supported St. John's faculty from across the disciplines using writing for learning and teaching. 

Summer Faculty Writing Institutes

In addition to ongoing workshops and consultations with faculty and departments, WAC facilitated three week-long WAC Summer Faculty Writing Institutes (SFWI). The SFWIs were a combination of faculty writing retreat and writing across the curriculum teaching workshop, and were held at the St. John’s Rome (2007 and 2008) and Paris (2011) campuses. For the first SFWI, the Director of the Institute for Writing Studies invited a group of faculty. For 2008 and 2011, faculty applied to the SFWI and were selected by a committee that included former SFWI participants. The 2008 and 2011 SFWIs each had 20 participating faculty. “When in Rome” (Geller) describes the 2008 SFWI. 

Many St. John’s faculty from these Summer Faculty Writing Institutes presented on and published research related to their inquiries into learning and teaching with writing. For example, Dr. Jeff Nevid (SFWI, 2008), Amy Pastva, and Nate McClelland published “Writing-to-Learn Assignments in Introductory Psychology: Is There a Learning Benefit?” in Teaching of Psychology, Dr. Natalie Byfield (SFWI, 2011) was awarded a 2011 American Sociological Association, Carla Howery Teaching Enhancement Grant to study the impact of using memoir-writing as a tool for developing students’ sociological lenses. Dr. Frank Cantelmo (SFWI, 2007) and Dr. Anne Geller published “Workshopping to Practice Scientific Terms” in Teaching with Student Texts. 

Faculty Fellows and Writing Fellows            

In 2009, WAC founded the Faculty Fellows and Writing Fellows program in partnership with the University Writing Center. For six years faculty from across colleges and disciplines were paired with experienced undergraduate writing center consultants. In these collaborative partnerships, the Faculty Fellow and the Writing Fellow worked together on a course of the faculty member’s choosing and developed the syllabus to integrate more writing into the course and thus more ways for students in the course to learn through writing. Each cohort of faculty fellows also met as a group, read and discussed research on the teaching of writing (including literature from their disciplines) and reflected on their pedagogy in order to develop ways to utilize writing for learning and engagement in their courses. In the cohort, they shared resources and reflected on their identities as writers/scholars to further enhance their writing pedagogy.

A number of the undergraduate Writing Fellows presented at regional and national conferences and some Writing Fellows presented on campus and at conferences with their Faculty Fellows. To learn about one of these partnerships, read Alejandro Quintana and Morgan Zajkowski’s published article: “Students as Teachers Transforming a History Course

Faculty Writing Initiative

Since 2009, WAC has collaborated with the Center for Teaching and Learning to lead the Faculty Writing Initiative (FWI). The FWI hosts six Faculty Writing Retreats each year and organizes ongoing to support writing community and help faculty, staff and graduate students meet their own writing and publishing goals. All Faculty Writing Initiative events are open to all St. John’s full and part-time faculty, staff and graduate students.

CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence

The St. John’s WAC program was awarded a 2013-2014 CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence.

Recent WAC Initiatives

During the 2017-2018 academic year, WAC collaborated with the St. John’s College Dean’s Office to facilitate two semester-long faculty learning communities. Through Improving Mid-Career Undergraduate Writing, ten faculty members from across the St. John’s College disciplines were able to read, think together and consider learning and assessment through writing in upper-level courses from across the disciplines.

On July 1, 2018, WAC changed its name to Writing Across Communities. Faculty who have been involved with WAC over the past eleven years have been integral to imagining the future of the program. WAC at St. John’s has long been involved with Writing Across Communities initiatives through a national consortium and by working with these principles through our many faculty development programs. In the summer of 2012, Nancy Alvarez, an Institute for Writing Studies Fellow, attended the National Consortium of Writing Across Communities to represent St. John’s. In fall 2016, we had one of the foremost Writing Across Communities scholars, Dr. Juan Guerra, on campus for two days.