Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?
In the Justice Studies Program students learn to critically engage with ideas of equity, fairness and equality as it relates to the broader domains of both social and criminal justice. In its academic and applied settings, writing is a significant skill students acquire to demonstrate their understanding of sociological and criminological fundamental concepts and ideas, theoretical and research literacy. Writing also helps them connect all these components to an applied setting in their capstone courses.
Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?
There are two justice studies courses that meet the WID requirement:
- Sociology 362: Theories of Crime Seminar
- JSTD 466: Senior Seminar in Justice Studies
SOC 362 and JSTD 466 provide a cumulative academic experience for students while they prepare to embrace a career in the field or pursue a graduate degree. In SOC 362, students are introduced to different tenets of criminological theories, the knowledge of which is demonstrated through several long and short writing assignments. In JSTD 466 students take this learning from their theory class as well as required research classes (including SOC 302, which is the WID requirement for the Sociology Program) to work on a senior project (research paper, grant application, etc.).
What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?
In SOC 362, students learn a wide range of theoretical concepts and their application to contemporary social justice issues. Typically, the class requirements include an extensive term paper which is built on relatively shorter writing assignments. The class works on providing students with the opportunity for faculty feedback on their articulation and application of theories through these shorter assignments throughout the semester.
In JSTD 466, the final term paper is more extensive and detailed and integrates theory, a literature review, a research method, data, data analysis, discussion and conclusion. Similar to most social science research projects, students should be able to formulate a research question, seek out relevant literature, work on relevant research design and revisit the literature and theory after data analysis. Alternative assignments include research grants, which require a more in-depth literature review and a justification of the grant in an applied context. Irrespective of the type of assignment, writing is pivotal for students in being able to make the academic connection between scholastic literature and the practical context.
What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?
In both SOC 362 and JSTD 466, short writing assignments assess their understanding of theories, definitions of research problems, brief reviews of literature and proposed research designs. Case studies and discussion board prompts also support this learning process. The longer term papers required at the end of the semester in each course build on these different types of learning and are supported by consistent and systematic instructor feedback.
When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?
Writing is a both a fundamental and advanced skill set that will enable students to thrive in life opportunities beyond their undergraduate degree. Students will build their articulative capacity to make the connections between daily experiences which pertain to the social world and the underlying social science knowledge surrounding the same. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways in students’ career paths – communication with peers, working on projects that ensure vertical mobility in careers, advocating for a diverse workplace and career planning, amongst others. For students pursuing an advanced degree, these undergraduate writing experiences clearly set forth the academic path where writing as a skill set works to their advantage to seek out more profound scholastic endeavors and succeed in these attempts.