IWP Mission Statement

In keeping with NAU’s commitment to student success and excellence in education, the Interdisciplinary Writing Program is committed to the intellectual growth and development of students through providing resources and experiences that encourage writers to explore, develop, research, design, and present their work inside and outside of the academic classroom.

IWP goals

The IWP is committed to providing a learner-centered program that focuses on student success, engagement, and achievement, advances the internationalization of the university, creates a culture of inclusion, and exemplifies an innovative, effective, and accountable learning community by focusing on:

  • Writing: assist all NAU students in improving their writing capabilities for their academic classes and to offer help for students with writing projects not directly related to their academic classes, such as job letters and graduate school applications
  • Research: strengthen student research skills by emphasizing an independent approach to finding, analyzing, integrating, and citing sources. 
  • Design: assist students with document and presentation design, digital and hardcopy
  • Presentation skills: provide help with and give feedback on presentation skills, including organization, research content, argument structure, and professionalism.

T-Shaped Individual

A critical concept to visualizing the IWP’s goals is the T-shaped individual. The idea arose to meet demands in business for furthering cross-disciplinary collaboration. The “T” shape itself represents the distribution of a person’s skillset; where the vertical stroke of the T is a person’s disciplinary skillset or area of expertise, and horizontal stroke of the T is the breadth of knowledge that expands outside of the person’s expertise. The T-shaped individual is a counterpoint to the traditional I-shaped person. An I-shaped person has only their depth of knowledge without the breadth of knowledge to allow for easy collaborations.

This model creates a well-rounded person suited for a workforce focused on “generalizing specialists.” Generalizing specialists are people with a depth of knowledge in their specific fields that maintain the skills and breadth of knowledge to easily collaborate with others that have a different depth of knowledge.

The IWP, therefore, aims to cultivate T-shaped people, to inspire cross-disciplinary collaboration and projects.

Credit to IDEO CEO Tim Brown for creating the concept.