Early last summer, College of Arts & Sciences Divisional Dean Judy Howard provided the chairs of four departments— American Ethnic Studies, American Indian Studies, Geography, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies—with the resources to establish a center that would provide additional support for the writing needs of their undergraduate students. The project is a one-year pilot program that will be assessed next summer; the hope is that it will be successful enough to warrant continued support so that the four departments will be able to provide both their students and faculty with continued writing support.
Excited about the prospect of providing students with a new opportunity to focus on their writing, the four chairs worked collaboratively over the summer to identify a physical space where the center would be located and to interview candidates for the director’s position. Dr. Lucy Jarosz, chair of Geography, graciously agreed to provide space in her department (Smith Hall 113B) where tutors can meet with students to work on all aspects of writing and research from brainstorming through final product. After interviewing several terrific candidates, the chairs appointed Caitlin Palo as the Director of the newly established Interdisciplinary Writing Studio (IWS).
Palo, a graduate student in the English Department with years of experience as a tutor and as an Assistant Director in the Odegaard Writing and Research Center, immediately developed a plan for the IWS and hired three tutors with links to diverse programs across the UW—including AES, Political Science, International Studies, Education, Linguistics, and Geography. Tutors for the IWS are focused on how best to engage and support students and give them a chance to work through difficulty and excitement without grades or judgment.
Because they work in partnership with a number of faculty in the four departments, Caitlin and the IWS tutors are closely attuned to the expectations and hopes of the courses they are expected to support. In talking through assignments that are focused on making meaning of the university and larger communities, the tutors hope to help students find ways to make their writing matter in and beyond the classroom. In the training that she developed to prepare the tutors at the IWS, Palo focuses on ensuring that they will be equipped to provide strategic support on all types of writing: coursework, journal entries or reading responses, research papers, thesis or capstones, creative pieces and resumes.
IWS has already been consistently booked with students from across the departments. In their meetings with students, tutors are able to work through issues that aren’t always acknowledged in the university and help students to further their thinking and better navigate the university system through writing and conversation. The chairs of the four departments look forward to a successful year and the permanent implementation of the IWS.
If you’re an AES student who needs help with a writing assignment, we encourage you to go to the IWS link on our website to make an appointment. We firmly believe that the mentoring and support that the IWS offers will make a difference in your writing and in other aspects of your life at the UW. Contact the director Caitlin Palo at email@example.com for more information or check out the links below: