Carleton follows a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) model for institutional writing instruction. Roughly stated, this means that the college does not rely on a few designated courses to teach students the writing skills they need. While the English Department does offer two courses that focus specifically on the methods of academic writing, these are elective courses; there is no required first-year composition course or sequence at Carleton.

Instead, faculty in all departments and programs take collective responsibility for teaching writing alongside the content of their courses. This way, students learn writing as a natural extension of their academic work, not as a separate skill set taught in a vacuum at the beginning of their college careers.

In keeping with the WAC ethos, all faculty are encouraged to assign writing in one form or another whenever possible in their classes, regardless of the level or discipline. This is not a requirement, and we recognize that the structure and subject matter of some courses might make writing assignments impractical. However, the more opportunities students have to learn and practice writing in a variety of genres and disciplines, the stronger and more flexible their writing skills will become.

Some Carleton courses are specifically designed as Writing-Rich (WR). These courses do carry some requirements for both the type of writing assignments and the level of writing instruction that students receive, but these requirements are designed to be both moderate and flexible, so faculty can integrate them in ways that are appropriate for the course. Please keep in mind, though, that the WR designation on a course is persistent, so new faculty may be assigned an existing course, only to discover after the fact that it’s Writing-Rich. If you find yourself in this position and are unsure how to address the WR requirements in your course, feel free to contact the WAC Director for assistance.

The pages in this section explain some of the basic concepts behind the WAC model and how they apply to individual courses. The short version though, is that writing instruction at Carleton’s is everyone’s responsibility so that it doesn’t have to be any one person’s responsibility. Look for ways to work writing into your courses in ways that are natural and appropriate to the subject matter, and trust that, if your colleagues do the same, our students will gradually learn what they need to know to write effectively in the lives and careers that await them after graduation.