On this page, you will find a wealth of resources for using and researching the whole systems approach for launching and developing WAC programs. These resources are divided into three categories:
- References: citations and annotations for articles and books that refer to and/or further develop the whole systems approach for launching and developing WAC programs
- Resources: resources related to the field of WAC (such as conferences and journals).
- Materials: artifacts and tools related to the whole systems approach, such as mission statements, network maps, and sample faculty surveys,
Finding writing where it lives: Departmental relationships and relationships in departments
In this chapter, Robert Scafe and Michele Eodice argue that, for many years, their approach to writing center and WAC program administration “would hardly be classified as systemic or sustainable” (Cox, Galin, & Melzer, 2018). They reflect that their approach relied too heavily on “micro-level, decentralized pedagogical work” (p. 236), the kind of approach to writing program administration Cox, Galin, and Melzer characterized as not promoting program longevity. However, Scafe and Eodice argue for the value of the relationships with faculty formed by this kind of micro-level work, and in this chapter, they develop a conceptual framework informed by WEC’s focus on collaborative labor, mutual respect, and relational work and supported with a case study from a WEC initiative in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.
Citation: Scafe, R. & Eodice, M. (2021). Finding writing where it lives: Departmental relationships and relationships in departments. In C. Anson & P. Flash (Eds.), Writing-enriched curricula: Models of faculty and departmental transformation (pp. 235-251). The WACPDF
Introduction. WEC and the strength of the commons
In this introduction to an edited collection, Chris Anson refers to Cox, Galin, & Melzer (2018) to discuss features of unsustainable WAC programs and argues that writing-enriched curriculum (WEC) initiatives offer one approach that addresses problems that have led to failure of WAC programs for decades. As argued by Anson, in contrast to many WAC programs, WEC programs feature agency of departments to determine how best writing is integrated into their curricula, position WEC leaders as intermediators between the department and administration (rather than enforcer of the administration’s mandates), and is designed to promote sustainability by scaling gradually and using assessment practices.
Citation: Anson, C. (2021). Introduction. WEC and the strength of the commons. In C. Anson & P. Flash (Eds.), Writing-enriched curricula: Models of faculty and departmental transformation (pp. 1-14). The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. DOI: 10.3Online Entity
Piloting WEC as a context-responsive writing research initiative
In this chapter on the transition from a WAC to a WEC initiative at Moravian University, Crystal Fodrey and Chris Hassay describe how Fodrey used a whole systems approach (Cox, Galin, and Melzer, 2018) to make Fodrey’s administrative position more manageable. For example, she advocated within the English department to revise their scholarship statement so that “administrative contributions that promote intellectual growth” would now count as scholarly production toward tenure and promotion (p. 170). She was then able to frame WEC as research, for which she applied for and received two summer research grants (p. 170).
Citation: Fodrey, C. N. & Hassay, C. (2021). Piloting WEC as a context-responsive writing research initiative. In C. Anson & P. Flash (Eds.), Writing-enriched curricula: Models of faculty and departmental transformation (pp. 167-180). The WAC Clearinghouse and UnivPDF
The new grass roots: Faculty responses to the writing-enriched curriculum
Early in the chapter, Chris Anson refers to Cox, Galin, and Melzer (2018) to state that “sustainability is the lifeblood of WAC programs” (p. 46) and argues that what happens during the early stages of implementation is especially key to program sustainability. This chapter draws on interviews from WEC initiatives in several departments to report on how faculty attitudes toward writing were impacted during the implementation of WEC.
Citation: Anson, C. (2021). The new grass roots: Faculty responses to the writing-enriched curriculum. In C. Anson & P. Flash (Eds.), Writing-enriched curricula: Models of faculty and departmental transformation (pp. 45-72). The WAC Clearinghouse and University PrePDF
Theorizing the WEC model with the whole systems approach to WAC program sustainability
In this chapter, Jeffrey Galin draws on data from the WAC program he directs at Florida Atlantic University, arguably the first program to use a whole systems approach (Cox, Galin, and Melzer, 2018) in conjunction with a QEP initiative, he began a WEC initiative in order to revitalize a longstanding WAC program, and in this chapter, he traces how he used collaborative and consensus building to develop a program mission, goals, and sustainability indicators (drawing also on Cox & Galin, 2019). Included in this chapter are useful sample materials: a slide from a meeting with the political science department laying out the writing plan (p. 184), the mission he developed with his colleagues (p. 192), sustainability indicator ranges (193-196), resulting data (p.196), and that data presenting visually (pp. 198-199). This chapter would be fruitful to read alongside Cox and Galin (2019) and Peters (2019).
Citation: Galin, J. (2021). Theorizing the WEC model with the whole systems approach to WAC program sustainability. In C. Anson & P. Flash (Eds.), Writing-enriched curricula: Models of faculty and departmental transformation (pp. 181-202). The WAC Clearinghouse andPDF
Writing-enriched curriculum: A model for making and sustaining change
In this analysis of how she developed the writing-enriched curriculum model of the University of Minnesota, Pamela Flash draws on Cox, Galin and Melzer (2018) to argue that the model’s “durability and portability rely on it’s conscientious consideration of components and heuristics helpful to sustainable program development” (p. 20). Further, consideration of Cox, Galin and Melzer’s (2018) move to theorize WAC program administration led her to do the same in this chapter: “In Sustainable WAC, Cox et al. suggest that people interested in establishing durable writing initiatives find less value in narrative accounts of individual, contextually idiosyncratic programs and observation-based analyses than in analytic frameworks and tested administrative heuristics. I agree” (p. 20).
Citation: Flash, P. (2021). Writing-enriched curriculum: A model for making and sustaining change. In C. Anson & P. Flash (Eds.), Writing-enriched curricula: Models of faculty and departmental transformation (pp. 17-44). The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press oPDF
Something larger than imagined: Developing a theory, building an organization, sustaining a movement
In this interview with Cox, Melzer, and Galin, Thomas Polks asks the authors of Sustainable WAC about the formation of AWAC, how they developed the Whole Systems Theory for sustainable WAC programs, their current thinking about WAC leadership, and what is next for the WAC movement and AWAC.
Citation: Polk, T. (2021). "Something Larger than Imagined: Developing a Theory, Building an Organization, Sustaining a Movement." Interview with Cox, Galin, and Melzer. WAC Journal,, 31, 84-96. DOI: 10.37514/WAC-J.2020.31.1.04PDF
“Something invisible … has been made visible for me”: An expertise-based WAC seminar model grounded in theory and (cross) disciplinary dialogue
In this chapter, Angela Glotfelter, Ann Updike, and Elizabeth Wardle refer to Cox, Galin, and Melzer (2018) to argue that many WAC programs seek long-term, sustainable change to a campus writing culture, one-time faculty development workshops rarely achieve this goal. To address this problem, they propose the faculty learning community model, a model found successful at the Howe Center for Writing Excellence at Miami University. This chapter reports on preliminary data.
Citation: Glotfelter, A., Updike, A., & Wardle, E. (2020). “Something invisible … has been made visible for me”: An expertise-based WAC seminar model grounded in theory and (cross) disciplinary dialogue. In L. E. Bartlett, S. L. Tarabochia, A. R. Olinger, & M. J. Marshall (Eds.), Diverse approaches to teaching, learning, and writing across the curriculum: IWAC at 25 (pp. 167-43). The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2020.0360.2.10Online Entity
The formation of a professional organization for writing across the curriculum
This chapter describes the development of the first professional organization for the field of writing across the curriculum: the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum (AWAC). As discussed in this chapter, one impetus for the development of this organization was the sustainability of the field. While the field was comprised of a number of initiatives and groups, such as a biennial conference (IWAC), a listserv (WAC-L), a website that published open-source journals and books (the WAC Clearinghouse), Chris Basgier et al. point to Cox, Galin and Melzer (2018) to argue that the lack of a central hub has “limited what this collection of WAC groups has been able to accomplish” (p. 36).
Citation: Basgier, C., Cox, M., Falconer, H. M., Galin, J., Harahap, Al, Hendrickson, B., Melzer, D., Palmquist, M., & Sheriff, S. The formation of a professional organization for writing across the curriculum. (2020). In L. E. Bartlett, S. L. Tarabochia, A. R. OliOnline Entity
Introduction. On connection, diversity, and resilience in writing across the curriculum
In the introduction to their edited collection, Diverse approaches to teaching, learning, and writing across the curriculum: IWAC at 25, Leslie Bartlett, Sandra Tarabochia, Andrea Olinger, and Margaret Marshall describe their volume as one that complements Cox, Galin, and Melzer (2018) Sustainable WAC, as it demonstrates the sustainability of WAC as a movement of the chapters included in the collection focus on themes only touched on in Cox et al., namely “individual teacher’s classroom practices” and the “preparation of future WAC scholars” (p. 5).
Citation: Bartlett, L. E., Tarabochia, S. L., Olinger, A. R., & Marshall, M. J. (2020). Introduction. On connection, diversity, and resilience in writing across the curriculum. In L. E. Bartlett, S. L. Tarabochia, A. R. Olinger, & M. J. Marshall (Eds.), Diverse appPDF
Activity theory as a tool for WAC program development
This program profile describes how program director Crystal Fodrey used activity to redesign the Writing at Moravian (WAM). In the conclusion, the authors acknowledge that they started their study before Sustainable WAC (2018) was published but see fruitable overlap in the two approaches, as both warned caution new directors from mimicking other programs and instead pay attention to the local context, find ways to develop a systematic process, and take use a slow and steady process to program development.
Citation: Fodrey, C. N., Mikovits, M., Hassay, C., & Yozell, E. (2019). Activity theory as a tool for WAC program development. Composition Forum, 42.Online Entity
Tracking the sustainable development of WAC programs using sustainability indicators: Limitations and possibilities
Published a year after Sustainable WAC (2018), Michelle Cox and Jeffrey Galin set out to clarify and further refine what has proven the book’s biggest “stumbling block” (p. 39): sustainability indicators (SIs). In this article, Cox and Galin claim that while SIs provide a useful heuristic for all WAC program leaders, they may not require assessment until later in a WAC program’s history. Further, they clarify the following aspects of the use of SIs: the identification of “proto-SIs” during the Understand stage, the process of working with a group of stakeholders to identify and assess SIs, and the use of the Drive-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) heuristic, which we had formerly discussed for creating SIs but have come to understand as a useful heuristic later in the process of WAC program development. Throughout the article, they draw on their own experiences using the WSA as program directors. This article would be fruitful to read alongside Peters (2019) and Galin (2021).
Citation: Cox, M. & Galin, J. R. (2019). Tracking the Sustainable Development of WAC Programs Using Sustainability Indicators: Limitations and Possibilities. Across the Disciplines, 16(4), 38-60. DOI: 10.37514/ATD-J.2019.16.4.20PDF
Reading an institution’s history through the lens of whole-systems theory
In this ambitious study, Brad Peters adapts the whole systems approach (Cox, Galin, & Melzer, 2018) to review twenty plus years of history of a WAC program’s development at a Midwestern high-research university, one that he directs and has been leading for these years. Peters first succinctly summarizes the whole systems approach, showing how it fills a gap left by Condon & Rutz’s taxonomy and builds on Walvoord’s social movement theory for WAC. He then articulates sustainability indicators (SIs), translating them into a six-degree rubric ranging from “minimum” to “substantial” (p. 12), a schema that will likely be appealing to readers. He then draws on program and institutional records and data to assess SIs for the following areas of his WAC program: student support, faculty support, degree programs, budget capacity, control of class size, equitable number of faculty to teach, capacity to assess, committee oversight, coordinator’s course-management, and program visibility. For each SI, he established a baseline, using data from year one of the program (pp. 14-15), captured data again in the next four years (when the program was well funded, the next six (when it wasn’t, and was in decline), and then the next nine (dubbed, the turn-around). For each, he provides an SI table and radar chart (e.g. pp. 28, 29, 31), as well as a narrative, in which the story is told visually, as well as grounded in evidence, and framed with the WSA. This article is the first not authored by Cox, Galin, and/or Melzer to most fully take up the WSA, and the first to adapt it for a use not intended by its authors. Peters ends his article with this: “Twenty-some years is a daunting span of time to reconstruct WAC’s presence on a university campus. But using whole-systems theory has helped me (and will help others) gain a much clearer picture of what the program has been, what it is, and what it can be” (p. 33). This article would be fruitful to read alongside Cox and Galin (2019) and Galins (2021).
Citation: Peters, B. (2019). Reading an institution’s history through the lens of whole-systems theory. WAC Journal, 30, 7-34. DOI: 10.37514/WAC-J.2019.30.1.01PDF
Foreword: An invitation to read for resilience
In this foreword to a collection on independent writing units, Louise Weatherbee Phelps suggests applying the whole systems approach (Cox, Galin, & Melzer, 2018) to writing programs outside of WAC. She suggests using the WSA to conduct retrospective analyses of independent writing units as well as longitudinal analyses (p. xii). She reminds readers that many independent writing programs had their start as WAC/WID programs and states: “We can build on [Cox, Galin, & Melzer’s] splendid start to develop deeper theoretical understandings of independence, interdependence, identity, and resilience in the units that house writing studies” (p. xii).
Citation: Phelps, L. A. W. (2019). Foreword: An invitation to read for resilience. In M. Abraham & R. N. Matzen, Jr. (Eds.), Weathering the storm: Independent writing programs in the age of fiscal austerity (pp. xi-xii). Utah State University Press.Online Entity
Researching Writing Program Administration Expertise in Action: A Case Study of Collaborative Problem Solving as Transdisciplinary Practice
In this article, Tricia Serviss and Julia Voss apply the framework and methodology of “new disciplinarity” (Parker, 2002) to analyze transdisciplinary interactions in the Writing in the Disciplines (WID) program at Santa Clara University. Serviss and Voss draw on Cox, Galin, & Melzer (2018) by showing the “the process of involving stakeholders and engaging with outside systems” in action (pp. 458-459). Their article details how they included staff and faculty from different appointment types and disciplines when setting up a multidisciplinary team, as well as considered diverse professional expertise.
Citation: Serviss, T., & Voss, J. (2019). Researching Writing Program Administration Expertise in Action: A Case Study of Collaborative Problem Solving as Transdisciplinary Practice. College Composition and Communication, 70(3), 446–475.Online Entity
Sustainable WAC: A whole systems approach to launching and developing WAC programs
Informed by theories that illuminate transformative change within systems–complexity, systems, social network, resilience, and sustainable development theories–and illustrated with vignettes by WAC directors across the country, this book lays out principles, strategies, and tactics to help WAC program directors launch, relaunch, or reinvigorate programs within the complicated systems of today’s colleges and universities.
Citation: Cox, M., Galin, J. R., & Melzer, D. (2018). Sustainable WAC: A whole systems approach to launching and developing WAC programs. Urbana, IL: NCTEOnline Entity
More than a useful myth: A case study of design thinking for writing across the curriculum program initiatives
In this article, Jenna Pack Sheffield puts forth design thinking as a useful framework for “addressing structural or curricular problems in WAC programs” (p. 168). She sees this framework as distinct from and complementary to systems thinking, as presented by Cox, Galin & Melzer (2018). Sheffield notes that design thinking and systems thinking both developed as ways to analyze and solve problems, but originated from different fields, with design thinking emerging from architecture and art/design disciplines (p. 168) and systems thinking from fields like engineering and biology (p. 171). She sees the two approaches as complementary, arguing that “systems thinking may be more valuable for initial program development, but design thinking can be rather quickly (depending on the context and goals) and cheaply applied for innovation at any stage of a WAC program’s lifespan” (p. 171). This useful article is a useful extension of the whole systems approach that bears closer examination.
Citation: Sheffield, J. P. (2018). More than a useful myth: A case study of design thinking for writing across the curriculum program initiatives. WAC Journal, 29. DOI: 10.37514/WAC-J.2018.29.1.08.PDF
Review. Sustainable WAC. A whole systems approach to launching and developing writing across the curriculum programs
In this review of Cox, Galin, and Melzer (2108), Mandy Olejnik poses intriguing questions inspired by our work that we hope are taken up by future researchers (pp. 229-230): “what is the role of graduate student directors and administrators in WAC work, as more WAC programs grow and more doctoral programs might enable graduate students to serve in WAC administrative assistantships and specialize in WAC? How can programs sustain the work that graduate students spearhead, as they are only in their administrative roles for a few years at most? What might a whole systems approach offer to the training of future writing program administrators, in WAC and out?”
Citation: Olejnik, M. (2018). Review. Sustainable WAC. A whole systems approach to launching and developing writing across the curriculum programs. Composition Studies, 46(2). 227-230.PDF
Building sustainable WAC programs: A whole systems approach
This article explores the whole systems approach (WSA) (Cox, Galin, & Melzer, 2018) by following the launch of a Writing across the Curriculum program at Texas A&M-San Antonio (TAMUSA), a university at which one of the authors, Jeffrey Galin, was consulting and mentoring the WAC director, Katherine Bridgeman. This article provides a concise overview of the WSA, as well as examples that show how this approach works in context, including an image of a whiteboard that displays a mapping of WAC in relation to writing activities on campus completed by the TAMUSA WAC committee (p. 70), a network map of TAMUSA’s WAC program (p. 72), sample sustainability indicators that show TAMUSAs WAC program in distress (p. 78), and an email from Jeff as WAC consultant that prompted Katherine to think of WAC as “the introduction of transformative change for the curriculum on your campus” (p. 83), an email that ultimately persuaded the WAC Committee to implement a four-course WI curriculum (p. 83). This article complements Sustainable WAC by showing how the WSA may be applied on one campus.
Citation: Cox, M., Galin, J. R., & Melzer, D. (2018). Building sustainable WAC programs: A whole systems approach. WAC Journal, 29, 64-87. DOI: 10.37514/WAC-J.2018.29.1.03PDF
Using systems thinking to transform writing programs
Building on Porter et al.’s call for institutional theorizing and critique at the system level, in this article Melzer argues that Critical Systems Thinking (CST) is a useful methodology to understand, critique, and transform campus writing programs. CST focuses on changing the structures and ideologies of an entire system through locating points of leverage where even small changes will affect the entire system, moving it from isolation to liberation. Melzer uses the example of transformations to the campus writing program at his former institution to illustrate the systems methodology, and he ends the article with advice for applying CST to campus writing programs across institutional contexts.
Citation: Melzer, D. (2013). Using systems thinking to transform writing programs. Writing Program Administration, 36(2), 75-94