Writing Across URI announces new Undergraduate Writing Award

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I.– Jan. 31, 2020 — To raise the profile of writing across campus and create a culture in which writing is celebrated and supported, Writing Across URI will introduce a new undergraduate award this spring.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, writing is one of the top three skills recruiters look for in job candidates. Heather Johnson, director of the Writing Across URI program, which is supported by the Office of the Provost, hopes this award will encourage faculty to incorporate more writing into their coursework.

“The more opportunities that students have to write, the more versatile writers they can become, and it takes the entire campus to raise the quality of writing,” Johnson said. “The best writing comes from being brave, sharing your work with others and taking the time to polish and re-work it. Good writing takes time, care and attention to detail.”

The award has three categories- advocacy writing, which gets things done, makes a case, or changes the community; scholarly/research writing, which utilizes primary or secondary sources to pursue a specific topic; and science writing, which communicates scientific ideas/issues to the public.  The deadline for submissions is March 16.

The winner of each category will receive $1,000 and be honored at a reception in late April.

Students must submit their work along with a personal statement giving the piece context. Entries can be pieces that students have completed for a class or have produced for an audience outside URI.

Johnson said that the University gathered an advisory committee that included members from the academic colleges across the University with diverse viewpoints. The categories and criteria were ultimately chosen to allow students from many different disciplines to submit work.

“Writing is about the communication of ideas and all undergraduates aspire to have their voices and their ideas heard,” she said. “This award will encourage students to believe they are capable of doing interesting work.”

The award is meant to honor numerous types of writing, such as traditional scholarly work that is being completed and writing that was done for an internship, a blog, or for a club.

Johnson noted that the writing students complete in their coursework does not have to be the traditional 15-page research paper; it can be a two-minute reflection at the end of class, as this will help create a healthier culture around writing at the University.

“There are assignments that challenge students to write in real-world contexts, and there are genres that matters in their discipline,” Johnson said. “It takes the whole campus to give students meaningful writing opportunities so that they become versatile writers by the time they graduate.”

The award has already been announced to all college deans and is live on the Writing Across URI website. It will be publicized across campus within the coming weeks.