NWC Writing Program
Clear thinking and concise writing are closely related objectives of the NWC curriculum. The college and writing program includes a number of reinforcing assignments of various types and lengths over the academic year. Each assignment is tied to the learning objectives of a particular block of study. NWC does not teach composition as a separate discipline, but the writing program is interlaced in the curriculum to allow students to exercise their writing skills in short essays, longer essays, and for some students, research projects (either individually or in a group). The intent of the writing program is:
- To help achieve the learning objectives of the core curriculum and electives
- To help integrate concepts through the application of theory, history and analysis to new situations and issues
- To help students gain and demonstrate an understanding of a body of ideas through the clear, concise, and unified presentation of thoughts in a logical order and in well-crafted language
- To hone the writing skills required to articulate those ideas so that good writing becomes even better as well as to help students whose writing needs improvement
- To promote faculty and student interaction through working together on longer essays and research projects of mutual interest
- To "identify" concepts and issues of use to the policy community
- To motivate and help students write articles and essays for publication in major strategy and policy journals
Writing at NWC
As a tool of learning and thinking, writing is a proven method of stimulating original thought. Because of the importance of the issues analyzed in the College curriculum, NWC is alert to opportunities for students to contribute to the national debate on policy and strategy. These opportunities may be pursued through the research and writing program. The faculty stands ready to help place good ideas and essays into the hands of senior civilian and military leaders.
Diagnostic Assessment and Executive Writing Course
To improve writing and analytical skills, NWC offers a diagnostic writing assessment before the academic program begins. Students are given specific instructions for this exercise during orientation. The diagnostic generally consists of each U.S. student writing a brief, short-suspense analytical paper on an article. The papers are evaluated by faculty members using a standard rubric. Any student who receives a below standard evaluation will be encouraged by their faculty advisor to enroll in the Executive Writing Course which is scheduled during the first few weeks of fall semester. This course is structured to improve the students' ability to meet and exceed standards for composition and content in their many papers over the academic year.
Core course writing requirements total about 25-30 pages per semester. In addition, elective courses may require papers and/or oral presentations. Students will write core course essays of varying length in each major segment of the curriculum. The topics for each paper will be described in the course syllabus. The essays will require the student to analyze and evaluate material presented in a particular course as a way of rounding out student understanding of the main issues addressed. With approval of the Faculty Advisor, and after coordination with a sponsoring faculty member, a student may choose to write a longer essay (20-30 pages) in lieu of writing two core course essays, a core course essay and an elective course essay, or two elective course essays.
Combining core and/or elective course essays: This option allows students to explore an issue in-depth (5000 words) of their own choosing, while receiving credit for a combination of two core and/or elective course writing requirements. While the subject must be related to the NWC curriculum, it need not be directly connected to the standard course writing requirements that it replaces. However, the student proposal must convince the Director of Research and Writing, as well as the appropriate course directors that it will require an equivalent amount of academic effort.
Longer essays are encouraged for interested students for the spring semester. Proposals will also be considered from experienced writers for the fall semester. Students who wish to write a longer essay must identify a faculty member who will agree to direct and evaluate the paper (the Paper Sponsor) before submitting a proposal. Proposal forms for the longer essay option may be obtained at http://ndunet.ndu.edu/nwc/index.htm#Top
In lieu of a standard elective course, students may pursue a 5902 research elective on a subject outside the purview of the core or electives program. Such a research project may be undertaken by an individual or group. The research required should be the equivalent of a 12-week elective seminar. If an individual undertakes the project, 25-30 pages will satisfy the requirement for a single elective course. A group project will require 25-30 pages per participant to satisfy the requirement for an elective course. For group projects, the final product is expected to represent the group's collective effort where the research and analysis are equitably distributed among all members.
In exceptional cases, an Individual Research Project requiring 50-60 pages to complete the analysis may substitute for two elective courses. Such projects are normally conducted across two semesters. Before a student undertakes a research project, a faculty member (the Paper Sponsor) must agree to direct the research and evaluate the final product.
Expanded and Sequential Papers
Students may wish to further explore an issue analyzed in a paper prepared in a previous core or elective course. In an expanded/sequential paper, they may elect to develop and refine an analysis completed for a previous NWC assignment. A student who wishes to pursue this option must submit a proposal, which carefully defines the new work and the analysis that will constitute the expansion of the original essay. The original paper must be attached to the proposal when it is submitted for approval. These papers are 5000 words long excluding footnotes and bibliography.
The Research Fellows program is separate and different from the essay options which are offered as an alternative to the standard writing requirements in the NWC curriculum.
Because of the complexity of the options available within the writing program, and to avoid any ambiguity such options might produce, the College has carefully defined 'original work'. The term 'original' within the NWC research and writing program means both 'produced by the author' and 'produced for the first time'. Complying with the original work definition will avoid any question of plagiarism. When in doubt if a student has any questions about options or requirements, consult a faculty advisor or the Director of Research and Writing. Consequently, essays written to satisfy the program's requirements must:
- Be produced during the student's tenure at NWC
- Be submitted for academic credit only once to satisfy the requirement(s) within the research and writing options above
- Contain a student's own ideas and analysis except as documented by appropriate citations
Awards for writing excellence are presented to students by a variety of sponsors who recognize the high esteem NWC attaches to good writing. These awards include a selection of the best seminar essays in each major core course. In addition, NWC students may compete against students from the other senior-level professional military education (PME) schools for prestigious awards in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Strategy Essay (5000 word) and Article (1500 word) Competition and the Secretary of Defense Essay (5000 word) Competition each spring. NWC conducts special ceremonies each semester to honor all winners of excellence in writing awards.