Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in PWR and PWAC

Close-up of a small, metal W figurine sitting on pavement, with blurry blue sky background
PWR Accessibility
PWR Antiracist Pedagogy and Praxis
PWAC Antiracist Pedagogy

Writing is related to systems of power. Writing can both maintain and disrupt power hierarchies within communities, classrooms, institutions, and all spaces. Creating and analyzing arguments, critically examining assumptions, attending to what writing enables and prohibits, and composing ethically can: 

  • Make students more aware of the ways that language and ideas can empower or harm
  • Teach students to be responsible for how they communicate with diverse people and communities
  • Help students resist systemic legacies of oppression

Both the PWR and PWAC are committed to helping teachers and students transform unjust societies Through scholarship, teacher training, and ongoing mentoring and professional development opportunities (including workshops, Teacher Talks, and guest lectures) we  work toward more antiracist, just, equitable, and accessible courses and programs.

PWR Accessibility Statement

July 2021

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric is committed to accessibility across instructor, student, and administrator experiences. This commitment begins with recognizing that all of us have bodies and minds with various needs and preferences that matter to how we navigate the various physical and virtual environments in which we teach and learn together. Our social identities and identifications also shape how we move together and thus influence how and whether spaces are accessible. Thus, this statement works in concert with the Statement on Antiracist Writing Pedagogy and Program Praxis in asserting that classroom and pedagogical accessibility also means considering the ways that BIPOC people, LGBTQIAA+ people, disabled people, and multiply marginalized people are affirmed and supported in being fully present within a space.

Administrators, instructors and students who compose materials for PWR courses should, from the outset, maintain accessibility principles, including those forwarded by the Disability Resources for Students (DRS) office for making online course materials accessible. In addition to these guidelines, we also seek to explore the accessibility of physical classroom spaces as well as of the materials and interactions we use to support instruction and instructor/student learning.

Finally, accessibility is not just about transforming spaces and materials, it is about developing new ways to move and recognizing possibilities for enabling different kinds of presence. In “Universal Design: Places to Start,” Jay Dolmage offers a long checklist of possible ways to move. We commit to experiment and engage with these possibilities to support all members of the program.

Statement on Antiracist Pedagogy and Program Praxis

Rev. 2020; July 2021

Our Commitments and Vision

We in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric—program directors, instructors, and staff—approach the teaching of writing as consequential social action and ethical communication and we understand language as political and tied to identity, culture, and power. In our role as educators, we commit to reflect on the communities to which we are accountable and the language practices we are sustaining. We further commit to work against the various forms of systemic oppression emanating from racial capitalism and White supremacy that shape the social conditions of teaching, learning, and living in the university, in our social institutions, and in our everyday lives.

Rather than being simply a matter of individual biases or prejudices, we understand that various forms of oppression are pervasive, intersectional, and built into our educational, economic, and political systems. Racism, sexism, oppression of gender nonbinary and queer people, ableism, and oppression on the basis of language and citizenship all work in intertwined ways to reproduce the conditions of racial capitalism and colonialism.

These systemic oppressions are ongoing problems that concern all of us, that we all participate in perpetuating even unconsciously and unintentionally, and that require us to understand the important differences between intent and impact. We commit to working together, with compassion and critical intention, to resist and transform normative systems within our university and program and to rebuild our teaching and learning communities to be more socially equitable, culturally sustaining, and just.

We acknowledge that literacy education and language policies in the U.S. are built on a foundation of racial capitalism, White supremacy, and settler colonialism that persists and has delegitimized and often penalized the language practices, experiences, and knowledges of minoritized and historically underrepresented peoples. We therefore reject Eurocentric assumptions about the written word as a superior form of literacy and define composition and literacy in our program ecology as multi- or trans-modal, translingual, anti-colonial, and culturally affirming communication practices. We also reject the binary formations of standard/non-standard Englishes and native/non-native English speakers that racial capitalism has exploited at the expense of multilingual communities of color. We seek to transform this ongoing systemic inequity and discrimination by developing writing curriculum, assessment practices, teacher development programs, and language policies that recognize linguistic and other differences as the norm of communication and that stress rhetorical effectiveness and ethical language use across different lived experiences, contexts, genres, purposes, audiences, and writing occasions within and beyond the academy (See links at end of this document for more information).

Our Praxis

In teaching writing as social and ethical literacy, we are committed to developing antiracist and equitable pedagogical frameworks in our writing program and policies, in our teaching preparation and mentoring efforts, and in our curriculum and classroom practices. Antiracist pedagogical frameworks, as we understand them, are intersectional, which means that they center different forms of intersecting marginalizations as well as the power relations among race, class, gender, and other social, political, and cultural identities and experiences that may manifest in texts that we read and write, in students’ and teachers’ experiences, and in classrooms as well as broader social dynamics. While this statement and the below examples only signal the start to ongoing work, we seek to support our students and instructors through active antiracist and equity-focused pedagogies and program praxis that:

  • contextualize writing as a socio-political practice that helps students and instructors examine how writing might be practiced as personally and socially impactful, ethical, and empowering forms of literacy; 
  • practice ongoing metacognition and self-reflexivity with regards to our own teaching philosophies, classroom practices, power, policies, and positionality to help create more equitable classrooms and curricula;
  • create a culture of unlearning the norms and characteristics of systems of White supremacy and continually build a more actively antiracist writing program and praxis. 
  • make instituted and sustained efforts on recruiting and retaining instructors and administrators of color and of historically marginalized identities through equitable hiring practices and antiracist forms of support for teacher development;
  • develop writing assessment criteria for grading, peer-reviews, and students’ self-assessment that emphasizes writers’ development and their language choices and rhetorical effectiveness based on the writing occasion, genre, purpose, and audience rather than strictly on monolingual and dominant academic English norms and standards of correctness;
  • integrate language justice work as part of writing courses in which we examine how systemic racism is often encoded in practices that uphold “academic language” or “Standard English”;
  • encourage and support all instructors to practice antiracist pedagogy that is critically responsive to the contexts of their social identities, positionalities, teaching philosophies, and disciplinary and course objectives;
  • nurture classroom learning environments in which students and teachers are committed to engaging in critical and productive dialogue on issues of equity, justice, difference, and power as they manifest in class readings, writing, discussion, and more broadly;
  • conceptualize and practice teaching and learning with accessibility and Universal Design principles within the context of antiracism and anti-oppression;
  • resist Eurocentric and White U.S.-centric curricula and engage in curating reading and writing curricula that centers voices, knowledges, and experiences from marginalized authors and discourse traditions;
  • help students engage with course curricula in reflexive and compassionate ways that do not ask students of marginalized identities to relive trauma, but that asks all students to engage in social issues and how they relate to composing with criticality;
  • explore the relationships among writing, language, power, and social identities such as race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, mobility, faith/religion, and citizenship;
  • encourage students to make connections between their lived experiences and academic research and inquiries that complicate the notions of objectivity and neutrality in writing and academic learning; 
  • encourage students to think about the social impact of their writing and the social groups and communities they are accountable to as part of audience awareness;
  • create composing  occasions through assignment design that invite students to practice their multilingual, translingual, and multimodal language and literacy repertoires for different audiences, contexts, media, and situations with varying stakes 

These statements on antiracist writing pedagogy and program praxis has been informed and inspired by the following publications and documents:

This Ain’t Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice! By April Baker-Bell, Bonnie J. Williams-Farrier, Davena Jackson, Lamar Johnson, Carmen Kynard, Teaira McMurtry 
CCCC Position Statement on White Language Supremacy
CCCC Statement on Students' Right to Their Own Language
CCCC Statement on National Language Policy
UW Tacoma Writing Center’s Statement on antiracist & social justice
UW Public Health Program’s Commitment to Anti-Racism

The PWAC and Anti-Racist Pedagogy

The Program for Writing Across Campus (PWAC) is committed to engaging with anti-racist pedagogies. These pedagogies may take various forms, such as curricular attention to voices, communities, and perspectives that have been historically marginalized inside and beyond academic disciplines; inclusive classroom practices; discussions of racism; and consideration of other forms of prejudice and exclusion. We believe that countering the cultures and practices of racism in an academic institution is fundamental to developing a vibrant intellectual community. We are happy to talk with you about your questions as well as to support student-led initiatives around anti-racist work, and we invite you to contact PWAC faculty member Carrie Matthews at crmatthe@uw.edu, or program director Megan Callow at mcallow@uw.edu. If you’re interested in how teachers of English as a professional community have taken up anti-racist work, check out the National Council of Teachers of English Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning at http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/antiracisminteaching