By Brynn Saito January 7, 2016

It's an exciting time of integration and growth for CIIS' Center for Writing and Scholarship (CWS). On  September 1, 2015, CWS launched the Fall semester in its newly built space on the second floor, positioned within the new Haresh and Joan Shah Technology Center, and down the hall from the recently remodeled CIIS Laurance S. Rockefeller Library.

The integrated space includes two spacious, high-ceilinged meeting rooms-where CWS staff members and Writing Fellows provide one-on-one in-person and online writing support for students-as well as a director's office and a space for CWS' program coordinator, Jeremie Zulaski (EWP '15).

Made possible by a generous donation from The Haresh and Joan Shah Family Fund, the integrated Technology Center and CWS includes computer stations with virtualized PC desktop computers and iMacs, energyefficient cooling and heating equipment, automated lighting, and door sweeps ensuring the soundproofing of tutoring rooms and offices. Haresh Shah was the 2011 recipient of the Chaudhuri Award for Distinguished Service.

As CWS Writing Fellow and Expressive Arts Therapy student Beatriz Chavez noted, "Having two brightly lit, closed tutoring rooms gives students the privacy to go deeper with their writing practice. Students will disclose more details about their struggles and triumphs as writers."

Such engagement allows students to more actively and authentically cultivate their voices. The private tutoring rooms, along with the office's location amid key student spaces, has allowed CWS to further its mission of empowering individual learners and educators across program areas as they engage with, contribute to, and potentially transform their fields of practice and scholarship.

New Collaborations and Initiatives

Having a devoted tutoring and teaching space has also strengthened the community of CWS Fellows and staff, making possible the creative synergy that led to the launch of CWS' multimodal Fall Workshop Series. Along with facilitating a weekly Writing Lab on Tuesday evenings, CWS is offering a four-part Writers Salon Series with workshops on reflective writing, the academic writing process, and creative, integral approaches to the practice of scholarship.

CWS is also collaborating with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) program, to launch new initiatives supporting counseling psychology students and the international student community at CIIS.

In addition, CWS Fellows are creating and curating an online resource,, which will house video tutorials, handouts, and modules on all aspects of the academic writing process.

A Dynamic Fellowship Experience

At the core of CWS' many initiatives are the 13 Writing Fellows. From the Center's founding in 2012 to the present, students from a wide range of CIIS degree programs have participated in the fellowship, which includes pedagogical training courses and compensated work as a peer tutor and teacher. 

As students themselves, the Fellows know intimately the struggles and rewards of academic writing, and the value of teaching and learning. Throughout their time in the fellowship program, the CWS Fellows engage in vibrant conversations about the possibilities and complexities inherent in the transformative process of writing and inquiry. How can Fellows empower students with best practices while acknowledging the forces of history and oppression that shape an individual's relationship to the academy? How can we assist students in finding communities, journals, and audiences for their unique scholarship beyond the University's walls?

Such conversations will continue to light up the Center's new space, with fellows collaborating across disciplines to define, question, deepen, and expand CIIS' unique vision of integral writing and scholarship.

Brynn Saito is the Director of the Center for Writing Scholarship and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Undergraduate Studies.

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