This proposal concerns the development of an Academic Writing Program in the Warwick Business School. The University of Warwick is not alone in the Russell Group in offering no formal structure, in departments, for the provision of central technical support for essay, dissertation, and other academic writing – although it should be noted that Manchester, Nottingham, and Goldsmiths, for example, all have substantial university-wide programmes (6 or more fulltime tutors). The proposal seeks to begin to address this gap in Warwick’s offering to students in the area of academic literacy by scoping a programme for 1 year of activity within the Business School that addresses the writing needs of Undergraduates, Masters students and PhDs. Funding for the programme will be used to buy out time for academics the Business School to work with IATL on the development of a workable plan for a Writing Centre, and consultation with those from already established writing centres. Scoping such a plan will address important questions such as: is the centre purely for ‘technical’ writing in business, or is something more ‘creative’ imagined? Are, indeed, these two impulses – to be ‘creative’ and to ‘professionalise’ – mutually exclusive, or can they be united? How would such a centre be staffed, funded, and otherwise resourced? What are the levels of demand from students?
Naturally we would need to consult widely in this area and, given every major US university without exception has a mature writing programme, it would seem appropriate to invite academics from such an institution to visit Warwick to advise and consult. My recommendation would be the internationally recognised expert on academic writing Professor Richard Miller, who is Chair of the English Department at Rutgers University, and was instrumental in making their Plangere Writing Centre the force it is today. My other recommendation would be Professor Jay Ellis from the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is known for his innovative and creative approach to Business writing.
Dr Nicholas Monk would act as advisor to this project, drawing on his existing experience of Writing Programmes both in the US and the UK. Both Dr Cathia Jenainati from the English Department’s Academic Writing programme, and Dr Mihai Balanescu from Careers and Skills should also be fully engaged with advising on this project if possible. Catherine Hanley and Caroline Gibson are both experts in writing for publication and their experience would be invaluable. Members of the Creative Writing programme such as David Morley, George Ttouli will also advise. With this in mind there will be a specific element in the proposal that seeks to develop the use of poetry in Accountancy, a project already begun by Louise Gracia in the Business School.
The project’s consultation phase would be as wide-ranging as possible and would involve the preparation of questionnaires for a variety of University staff and students and face-to-face interviews with relevant staff from the Business School in particular but also from other parts of the University. The surveys and research would be advertised as a paid project to interested parties at postgraduate student level and supervised by a member of IATL staff (Caroline Gibson has expressed an interest). In its initial phase, as a process of scoping, few undergraduates would be reached, but should the proposal result in the creation of a writing centre the impact will involve thousands.