Director’s Message

The ability to compose messages thoughtfully, strategically, and persuasively --across many different platforms -- is essential not only to academic success, but to so much of what we do every day, on campus and beyond.

Writing and speaking are central to intellectual inquiry, to professional success, and to the many kinds of participatory culture that have emerged in our relationships with digital, networked technologies. Writing and speaking are crucial to global citizenship, and they are central to any hope we have in the pursuit of deep democracy and social justice here in our own society.
Stanford’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric works with students across the undergraduate curriculum to develop both skill in writing and speaking across many different genres and modalities, and the critical understandings that will enable them to be strategic, thoughtful, ethical, and persuasive in any kind of message they might need to create and deliver. PWR also helps students to analyze and interpret the persuasive strategies at work in messages they will encounter so they can be engaged citizens. We do this work with students across the entire campus:

  • Our required courses, PWR 1 and 2, provide students with a solid foundation in a rhetorical approach to writing and speaking and with the critical research tools necessary for success in all their academic work.
  • Advanced PWR courses deepen students’ knowledge in rhetoric as an intellectual discipline and in wide ranging writing practices.
  • The Hume Center for Writing and Speaking provides one-on-one support for students in all majors and departments, at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • The Oral Communication Program provides individualized support for oral communication for students and instructors across the disciplines.
  • Our Notation in Science Communication provides students in scientific and technical fields an opportunity to earn a special designation on their transcript through coursework, advising, and reflection designed to help them develop specialized knowledge of communication in their chosen fields.
  • Our Boothe (PWR 1), Lunsford (PWR 2), and Hoefer (Writing in the Major) Prizes are annual juried competitions that recognize student excellence in writing and speaking.
  • The Stanford Storytelling Project serves the entire university in exploring how we live in and through stories and promotes the transformative nature of modern and traditional approaches to oral storytelling.


Our Lecturers and Fellows are all highly accomplished intellectuals and teachers, who all hold PhDs and/or terminal degrees in their field and pursue significant, continual intellectual and professional development both in writing pedagogy and rhetorical theory as well as in their own areas of specialization. They work tirelessly for Stanford students to support their growth as writers and speakers, and their understandings of ways strategic communication can contribute greatly to their intellectual development, professional success, and to their lives as citizens engaged with their communities, the nation, and the world.
I invite you to watch for exciting new developments as we work to support Stanford’s students in and beyond their academic work here on campus. Please take some time to explore our courses and programs across campus and to get to know the stellar team of Lecturers and Fellows who make the Program in Writing and Rhetoric such a vibrant space for learning.
Adam Banks
Faculty Director, PWR