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As School of Arts and Sciences officials meet to discuss future stages in the implementation of an undergraduate writing requirement, students last week began pilot courses designed to test new ways of teaching writing. The SAS Writing Committee, which will ask newly-appointed Dean Rosemary Stevens for her input about the requirement today, developed a program that will require that all students, beginning with the Class of 1996, take one of several types of writing intensive-courses. Among the courses being tested for future inclusion in the writing requirement are three called "Writing About . . . " According to Writing Across the University Director Peshe Kuriloff, they focus on subjects like sociology, American civilization and history and sociology of science instead of the literature usually discussed in freshman seminars. The courses also concentrate on honing writing styles appropriate to different disciplines. These courses will be one of several options that future students can use to fulfill the writing requirement. Other options for meeting the writing requirement will include a traditional first-year writing seminar, two course sections affiliated with Writing Across the University, a faculty-led writing workshop, or a two-credit writing laboratory section attached to a larger course. Kuriloff added that members of the writing committee searched for alternatives to traditional, literature-focused courses. "We worked a lot designing writing courses outside of English because the English courses are sort of there already," Kuriloff said. Sociology PhD candidate Lisa Ratmansky, who teaches Writing About Social Problems, said writing styles vary widely among academic concentrations, and the experimental seminars address this variation. "All the academic disciplines have different conventions that make writing for each of them a very different adventure," Ratmansky said. "You use different rules of evidence, of argument, different rhetorical strategies. If you learn to write about English literature, it may not translate if you want to write about the Civil War or poverty." Ratmansky's course includes exercises in writing ethnography and analyzing quantitative studies, both of which are necessary to writing about social sciences. According to Writing Committee Chairperson Guy Welbon, faculty members will be encouraged to submit courses for acceptance into the writing program. To be accepted, courses must include a minimum of 500 words assigned writing per week, have no more than 15 students, and emphasize and encourage revision of written work. "What we're after is pursuing writing the way writing is pursued," said Welbon. "One writes, one evaluates, one revises, one revises, one revises." Both the freshman seminars and the writing labs were first offered last year and are continuing on an experimental basis this semester. The faculty-led writing workshops have not yet been implemented.

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