Skip navigation
Degree Programs

Events, Research & News

Writing and the Public Good

As its vision statement declares, DU strives to be a "great private institution dedicated to the public good." In that spirit, the DU Writing Program maintains several initiatives that connect students, faculty, and staff with local communities and causes, and recently [year] was awarded [CCESL's Community Engaged Department Honors]. This work demonstrates our commitment to creating a robust culture of writing both on and off campus, and our dedication to best practices for community engagement in the fields of Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing Studies. If any initiatives pique your interest, please contact Joe Ponce at joseph.ponce@du.edu for more information.

Community Writing Center (CWC)

In 2008, Writing Program Professor John Tiedemann co-founded the Community Writing Center with former colleagues Eliana Schonberg (Duke University) and Geoffrey Bateman (Regis University). The CWC provides writing instruction to guests and staff at Denver homeless shelters. For the past 11 years, the CWC has held weekly drop-in hours at the Saint Francis Center and The Gathering Place, where, each year, we have met with approximately 400 writers, helping them to write everything from resumes, letters to lawyers, and job applications, to fundraising and publicity materials, to poems, fiction, and even a collection of essays. The Community Writing Center has benefitted from the leadership and involvement of many writing program faculty, for example Professor Rob Gilmor currently coordinates CWC work at The Gathering Place, and at least a dozen DU Writing Center consultants, undergraduate, and graduate students over its history.

Community Writing Center Sample

Off-shoot projects of the CWC appear below:

Community Podcast Project: When You Are Homeless

In 2019, Writing Program Professor Blake Sanz co-published a podcast miniseries with graduate student Alison Turner called When You Are Homeless. Based in the DU Community Writing Center's work with Saint Francis Center, and The Gathering Place, that work involved interviewing clients of those shelters, transcribing, editing content for the website, and running social media outreach.

wyah luckys story 180 wyah ep 3 180 wyah erykas story 180

 

Writing Workshops for Local Non-Profits

In recent years, Professors John Tiedemann and Blake Sanz have sponsored writing workshops and performances at Urban Peak, a housing facility for homeless youth; created programming for high school youth at RedLine, an arts education nonprofit and gallery; and consulted on communications strategy with El Centro Humanitario Para Los Trabajadores, an organization working with & for day laborers.

Ongoing Programs and Initiatives

THE CLINIC FOR WRITING AND THE PUBLIC GOOD

In 2017, Writing Program Professor Dan Singer launched The Clinic for Writing and the Public Good, a learner-driven, open-access website for nonprofits, social movement leaders, and academics seeking to advance public good causes through writing. In doing this work, he collaborates with WRIT 1733 classes and a staff of upperclassmen, from sophomores to seniors.

PRISON ARTS INITIATIVE

Since 2018, Writing Program Professor Libby Catchings has taught creative writing in Colorado Corrections facilities and started a writing lab at Sterling Correctional Facility. As affiliate faculty to DU's Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI), she also provides writing support to contributors and editorial staff for the DU PAI newsletter, Reverberations from With(in).

 

Past Programs and Initiatives

WRIT ENGAGEMENT CORPS (WEC)

Overseen since 2017 by Writing Program Professors Sarah Hart Micke and Angela Sowa, WRIT Engagement Corps is a DU student group that creates community partnerships centered on writing, reading, and literacy activities. Through these partnerships, WEC deepens participants' self-understanding, empathy, and civic engagement. WEC has partnered with local schools including Asbury Elementary and Grant Beacon Middle. There, WEC has offered an after-school language arts course, hosted a book drive, and served as teacher's assistants.

wec525

wec525

 

COLLEGE VIDEO APPLICATION ESSAY INSTITUTE

In 2016, Professor Dan Singer collaborated with Lincoln High School to increase access for first-generation students from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socio-economic communities. A group of seniors and teachers visited DU's campus to learn how to compose college video application essays. In 2017, the program expanded to include follow-up support through lunch-and-learns, on-site writing tutoring, and in-school application planning events run in partnership with DU Admissions.

A STUDY OF COMMUNITY-ENGAGED WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM (CE-WAC)

In 2018-19, Professor Dan Singer collaborated with graduate student Alison Turner to conduct a qualitative study of community-engaged writing across the DU curriculum. Together, they interviewed DU faculty and, based on findings, generated recommendations for programming and research, both here at DU and nationally. Research tools from the study—an interview protocol, strategies for unitization, etc.—will be made accessible for use by Writing Programs across the country in developing effective community-engaged programming.

Community-Engaged WRIT Courses

Since 2007, the Writing Program has offered many courses that connect students with communities and causes outside the classroom. Please see the Writing Program's current course descriptions for more details and a full list of classes including those with community-engaged projects. Examples of these include:

Partnerships with Local Food-Justice Organizations

Students in Professor Heather Martin's classes explore the topic of food justice and conduct community research with organizations including Café 180, Denver Urban Gardens, and Food Recovery Network.

Partnerships with Transportation Organizations

Students in Professor Dan Singer's classes worked with the community organization Transportation Solutions to produce a series of PSA videos used in RTD's DU Station area redesign project.

Partnership with Charles Hay World School

Since 2013, Professors Heather Martin and Sarah Hart Micke have partnered with Charles Hay World School, a local public elementary. As part of their writing courses, Micke's and Martin's students have mentored Hay's first, second, fifth, and sixth graders; conducted a food-waste audit to cut down on lunch waste; and facilitated after school clubs and screen-free week events. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Martin has co-written grants with Hay administrators, collaborated with teachers on conference presentations, and offered writing workshops for staff across the Englewood Public Schools system.

charleshaypartnership1size525

charleshaypartnership2size525

Partnerships in Sustainability

In recent years, Writing Program Professor Megan Kelly and students in her WRIT classes have collaborated with the DU Center for Sustainability for community-engaged research and writing initiatives across campus. These include the DU Bridge Community Garden and the DU Ecodistrict concept, from IMPACT 2025. Her students have also worked with the Denver Metro Nature Alliance to collect and tell stories of underserved Denver communities and how funding from The Trust for Public Lands has increased their access to nature, as well as to research the DU campus's involvement in the 2018 City Nature Challenge.