Currently only available as a minor, students may be able to pursue a major in professional writing as early as fall 2014.
Formerly the expository writing minor, the three-year-old professional writing minor will garner nearly 180 graduates by the end of this summer.
Given the successful acceptance of the minor, the University Writing Program (UWP) faculty is looking into the possibility of offering a major in professional writing — this would be the first of its kind in the UC system, according to a June 4 press release.
Requiring about 64 units, the major would be designed to accommodate double majors and would offer three concentration tracks, including scientific and technical communication, journalism and digital communication and writing in communities and organizations.
Gary Sue Goodman, writing minor and internships faculty advisor, said that the proposal is in the process of being developed.
“As you might expect, many writing minors enjoy writing and feel confident about their communications skills. However, a large number have elected the minor for the opposite reason: they feel that strengthening their inadequate writing skills is crucial to achieving their academic and professional goals,” the press release stated.
According to Goodman, the program wants to make a more intensive study of writing possible on campus.
“We seek to extend undergraduate training in the theory, history and skills associated with writing studies, thus preparing students to enter graduate programs, professional schools and a wide range of professions. In short, we seek to prepare students not only to work as professional writers but also to excel as professionals who write,” Goodman said in an email interview.
Goodman added that a number of new courses have already been developed and approved, including Introduction to Professional Writing (UWP 10), Theory and Genre in
Professional Writing (UWP 100), Technical Writing (UWP 104T), Professional Editing (UWP 112A) and additional courses in advanced journalism courses.
“The proposal for a new major must demonstrate students’ interest. We can infer students’ interest from the popularity of the minor and from students’ pursuing independent majors in writing, but the petition and other signs of student support will be crucial,” Goodman said.
Emily Alameida, a first-year student currently developing an independent major in professional writing, said she imagines her major will not differ greatly from the proposed UWP major.
“If this major were currently available, I would most definitely pursue it. Before finding out about individual majors, I was already determined to minor in professional writing, so a major is just a step better,” Alameida said in an email interview.
According to Goodman, once the UWP faculty and program committee approve the proposal, it will be then sent to the Letters & Sciences College Executive Committee. Then it would sent to the Dean of Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, the Undergraduate Council and finally to the Chancellor.
She said the notion that writing is merely skills-based and not an academic field is mistaken.
“Rhetoric has been a subject of study since classical times, and writing studies has developed as a distinct academic field over the last 50 years,” Goodman said. “Professional writing is a disciplined, theoretically grounded practice, rooted in an understanding of communication not only as a professional skill, but as a rhetorical act and a force for socio-cultural, environmental and political change.”
Because student interest should be reflected in the proposal, a petition is available on the UWP website for students to endorse the approval of the professional writing major.
MUNA SADEK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.