Looking Back, Looking Ahead: A “Layered Literacies” Approach to Program Change
Keywords:Professional and Technical Writing, Writing Instruction, Curricular Change, Social Justice, Curriculum,, Non-Profit Writing, Technical and Academic Writing
This article showcases our professional writing program, which began in our university’s English department in the late 1980s, as we carry out the first major update since its inception. Until recently, the program has only been updated in small, incremental ways. We frame our recent, more extensive update in terms of Kelli Cargile Cook’s (2002) “layered literacies” scheme and Walton et al.’s (2016) guidance for integrating a social justice focus into professional writing programs. We describe our redesign of our major from a Professional and Technical Writing Program to a Public and Professional Writing Program, discussing how we addressed problems of enrollment decline, static classes, and outdated curriculum. We describe how we analyzed our student population and our program’s existing strengths and set clear, scholarship-based pedagogical goals before updating and modernizing our mission statement, learning outcomes, and curricular requirements. We conclude by sharing survey results that demonstrate campus stakeholders’ strong support of our programmatic changes. We reflect on expected benefits of our new program to our current and prospective students, our college and university, and our surrounding community. We offer key takeaways for professional writing program directors and faculty to consider as they evaluate and revise their own programs.