The Institute Writing Program seeks to equip cadets for both academic success and participation in the full range of rhetorical occasions they will encounter in their lives as citizens and professionals.
To ensure the development of strong written communication abilities, the program’s curriculum provides sequential, sustained writing instruction and support throughout the cadets' academic careers at VMI.
The program links a rigorous two-course sequence in first-year composition (ERH 101 and 102) with a thriving Writing Across the Curriculum initiative, which requires cadets to complete two additional “writing-intensive” courses prior to graduation. Professional tutors in the Writing Center consult individually with cadets at any stage of a writing project.
Beyond the classroom, the program celebrates excellence in writing by encouraging conversations among scholars, professional writers, cadets, and members of the surrounding community. Writing and rhetoric teachers gather on Post for the Spilman Symposium on Issues in Teaching Writing, a highly regarded national conference. The Writing Program also sponsors Post-wide contents to recognize excellence in writing by cadets across disciplines.
Writing Across the Curriculum
Writing-intensive courses provide cadets with regular opportunities to use writing to learn, analyze, and synthesize the materials of the course. In both formal and informal assignments, cadets also refine their ability to revise their writing in response to the needs of different audiences.
Each cadet is required to take a minimum of two upper-level courses that are officially designated as writing-intensive (W). At least one of these courses must be in the cadet's major. Writing-intensive courses build on cadets’ experiences in the first-year composition sequence and teach them to communicate effectively in different academic disciplines.
To qualify for the W designation a course must a) be numbered 200 or above; b) require substantially more writing than a non-W section of the same course, with a minimum of 10 pages of carefully revised writing submitted for grade; and c) provide substantial guidance in techniques of revision. Enrollment caps are placed on W courses to enable the professor's careful attention to each student's written work. In addition, because W-I courses build on the foundations laid in the ERH 101 and 102 (Writing and Rhetoric I and II) sequence, only students who have satisfied the Institute requirement to pass ERH 102 with a grade of C or better may enroll in W courses.