Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Beyond the Humanities: Offering a Bachelor of Science in Writing


Writing Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


Beyond the Humanities: Offering a Bachelor of Science in Writing Its near impossible to miss the articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and the mainstream media about the value of a college degree. At a time when states contribute less funding per student than ever before, and tuition climbs annually as a result, the value of what students learn and gain via their college experience is an ongoing and contentious conversation. This conversation about the value of a college education has, in our experience, permeated discussions of the writing major and the value of offering this degree program as an option outside of the more traditional English major. As Deborah Balzhiser and Susan H. McLeods (2010) article in College Composition and Communication makes clear, what counts as a writing major is determined largely by local contexts (faculty expertise, institutional and departmental politics, etc). The narrative we hear at conferences like CCCC and WPA and in journals describes the writing major as another way the field of composition studies is coming of age much as the development of graduate programs in rhetoric and composition carved out a common body of disciplinary knowledge in the 1980s and 1990s, and the development of independent writing programs legitimized and institutionalized the field in the 1990s and 2000s. But as the field has internalized these conversations and now offer more independent undergraduate writing majors than ever, have we as a discipline moved beyond our largely humanities (English department) roots? What could the writing major be if we imagine it not so aligned with the humanities but rather a collaboration with science, math, and the social sciences? This panel grows out of a curricular revision we crafted at our university. For the fourteen years after leaving the English Department to form an independent Writing Department that integrates academic, creative, and professional writing, we offered exclusively a Bachelor of Arts in Writing. We recently wondered what a Bachelor of Science in writing would look like, and how that might allow students to hone the writing major in new ways. What does the choice of a B.A. or B.S. degree program say to others about the writing major? We believe that what students learn from the sciences, social sciences, and mathematics can enhance their work as visual rhetoricians, professional and technical communicators, and generalist writers. And were taking a chance that the B.S. on a students resume may speak to a new audience. Our panel will describe how and why we made the innovative move from offering just the B.A. to offering both the B.A. and the B.S., as well as share trends nationally about the offering of B.A. and B.S. degrees in writing. We will also show how consciously choosing the B.A. and B.S. degrees allows for students to hone a more personalized degree path and shape audiences views of their degree. B.A. or B.S.: Whats the Difference? Speaker 1 will frame the conversation about B.A. and B.S. degrees within a national conversation about the value of college degrees. In particular, the speaker will 1) share information gathered from colleges and universities across the U.S. about what earning a B.S. and a B.A. means how those degrees are similar and different.--and 2) show how writing majors can fit into both options. The purpose of Speaker 1s talk is to argue for a broader conception of the writing major and how B.A. and B.S. degrees in writing speak to different audiences. B.A.or B.S.: Who Offers Which? Speaker 2 will share the results of a quantitative investigation into undergraduate writing programs nationally that offer B.A and/or B.S. options for students. The purpose of Speaker 2s talk is to report on trends regarding how these options fall along disciplinary lines (i.e, English, rhetoric, independent writing, technical communication). B.A. and B.S.: Innovating Beyond Our Humanities Roots Speaker 3 will describe why and how a 14 year-old independent writing department decided to offer a B.S. degree in addition to a B.A. Specifically, the speaker will describe the goals of the B.S. program as compared to the B.A. program, the reasons the department made this curricular revision, and the courses that count within each degree program. The purpose of Speaker 3s talk is to provide a concrete example of how the B.A. and B.S. degree options differ for students.

Conference Name

Conference on College Composition and Communication

Conference Location

Tampa, FL

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