Writing Circles program supports faculty and graduate students

Writing workshop

UO Writing Circles, a program that helps faculty members and graduate students with academic writing, is forming new writing groups for winter term.

Created and facilitated by the Center on Diversity and Community, a unit of the Division of Equity and Inclusion, Writing Circles support faculty and graduate students across all disciplines as they write for academic purposes and for publication, and, by extension, for promotion and tenure. They are not review groups where work is shared but rather accountability groups aimed at supporting strong writing practices, including productivity, and building a community of writers on campus.

Writing Circles began at the UO during winter 2016–17. Initially, there was one faculty member and one graduate student group, but demand has grown and the number has risen to three faculty members and two graduate student groups. Groups are composed of about 10 participants who meet weekly for three hours.

Kathie Carpenter, associate professor and head of the Department of International Studies, joined a writing circle with a “backlog of manuscripts” that she needed to revise, submit or resubmit.

“For me, the big challenge has always been that I feel compelled to focus on service before my own work because those needs are so immediate and personal,” she said. “Writing Circle gives me a way to block out time for my own writing and say no to other demands on my time without feeling guilty because the Writing Circle holds me accountable. It also allows me to focus on my administrative work with more effectiveness because I know that I’ll still have the time blocked out dedicated to my writing later in the day.”

Each group session starts with approximately 30 minutes of facilitated group discussion about writing and motivational strategies, sometimes spurred by a reading assignment on writing or professional life. Participants then discuss individual goals and progress.

The bulk of the time is spent working on individual projects. Each session ends with a review of accomplished goals. Participants commit to regular attendance and to keep records of their goals and progress.

Angel Dorantes is a doctoral candidate in critical and sociocultural studies in education and an academic advisor in the Educational Foundations program. His research focuses on the experiences and perceptions of Latino children and adolescents who translate or interpret for their parents.

Dorantes’ goal last spring was to successfully finish, submit and defend his proposal.

“The Writing Circle was instrumental in the overall accomplishment of these goals . . . Amidst an academic environment, we are sustaining a strong community of emerging scholars and we’re supporting each other,” said Dorantes, who not only finalized and defended his proposal but also finished a research grant application to the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, which has been funded.

New writing groups will be forming winter quarter. Vickie DeRose, the new director of the Center on Diversity and Community and associate vice president for the Division of Equity and Inclusion, is thrilled about the growth of the groups and their impact.

“Writing Circles prioritize the university mission of academic scholarship in an increasingly distracting world.” DeRose said. “These circles set aside a protected time and place for writing, celebrate accomplishments and build important academic communities across campus. We look forward to continuing and expanding this program in the future.”

Those interested in learning more or signing up for a winter quarter writing group should contact Rafael López, program manager in the Division of Equity and Inclusion, at lopezr@uoregon.edu.

—By tova stabin, University Communications