The John S. Knight Institute provides academic writing support for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as speaking support to international graduate students across all Cornell schools and colleges. The program administers first-year writing seminars and offers tutorial-based writing courses, seminars in the teaching of writing, and writing and speaking courses for international graduate and professional students. The program also supports upper-level courses across the university. In addition to courses, the Knight Institute provides tutoring services, writing workshops, a conversational English program, and curricular support for faculty who teach writing in designated writing courses or in courses across the curriculum that integrate writing with learning.
The director of the John S. Knight Institute is George Hutchinson, professor in the Department of English.
The Knight Institute has 3 campus locations:
- M101 McGraw Hall, (607) 255-2280
- 174 Rockefeller Hall, (607) 255-6349
- 260 Caldwell Hall
T. Carrick (Director, Writing Workshop), M. Cox (Director, English Language Support Office), D. Faulkner (Director, First-Year Writing Seminars), D. Evans (Director, Writing Outreach), K. King-O’Brien (Associate Director, Writing in the Majors), N. Lindberg (Lecturer, English Language Support Office), M. Myers (Lecturer, English Language Support Office), K. Navickas (Director, Writing Centers), J. Sands (Multilingual Writing Specialist), E. Shapiro (Director, Writing in the Majors), B. Zukovic (Senior Lecturer)
First-Year Writing Seminars
For first-year students, the Knight Institute supports First-Year Writing Seminars—more than 125 different courses more than 30 different departments in the humanities, social sciences, expressive arts, and sciences. Through introductory work in a particular field of study, seminars help students write effective academic prose—prose that, at its best, is characterized by clarity, coherence, intellectual force, and stylistic control. Students who have not had formal writing instruction in high school, are unfamiliar with academic writing, have serious difficulty with writing assignments or feel a general lack of confidence about their writing should participate in the FWS Writing Consultation offered every semester.
Offerings change from semester to semester. Each semester’s First-Year Writing Seminars are described on the Knight Institute website.
Other Undergraduate Courses
Writing in the Majors
Spanning the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, the Knight Institute’s upper-level, Writing in the Majors (WIM) courses offer opportunities for students to focus on writing, usually with guided revision. They also emphasize other forms of active learning that are essential to scholarship and careers in the disciplines. WIM courses do not satisfy formal writing requirements, and faculty participation is entirely voluntary. The Knight Institute provides funding and training for Teaching Assistants in Writing in the Majors courses. WIM courses are offered at every level of the undergraduate curriculum but mostly at the 2000, 3000, and 4000 levels. Course size ranges from small seminars with 20 or fewer students to courses that enroll several hundred. The Knight Institute provides funding and teacher training for Teaching Assistants in WIM courses.
Offerings change from semester to semester.
The Knight Institute provides occasional and ongoing instructional support for faculty and graduate student instructors across the disciplines who teach writing in First-Year Writing Seminars or Writing in the Majors Courses or in any course across the disciplines that integrates writing with learning. Faculty development opportunities include one-on-one teaching consultations, occasional in-class or departmental workshops, and the Faculty Writing Seminar in Writing Instruction (see below). Faculty may contact Knight’s Multilingual Writing Specialist to discuss strategies for supporting international students and multilingual writers.
The Faculty Seminar in Writing Instruction
Every June, the Knight Institute offers a small group of Cornell faculty an opportunity to develop new or refine existing courses. These courses may be designated as writing courses but they need not be. Participants receive a stipend. During this intensive four-day seminar, participants explore frameworks for teaching writing in a range of courses, and collectively review teaching materials.
Cornell Writing Centers
The Knight Institute offers tutoring assistance to any student who has questions about writing or a specific piece of writing. Writers can schedule appointments or simply walk-in for ongoing support with writing projects. Trained undergraduate and graduate student tutors, some with specialized training and experience working with English language learners, are available during the academic year at five campus locations. Learn more or schedule an appointment.
Graduate Writing Service
Cornell graduate students, post-docs, and faculty can work with experienced writers and teachers of writing to refine and develop strategies for drafting and revising their writing and teaching materials. Writers and teachers of writing can schedule face-to-face meetings or online appointments (using an internet-based video and messaging platform). Tutors can also provide written feedback on drafts through our eTutoring system. Learn more or schedule an appointment with the Graduate Writing Service.
Tutoring Services for International Graduate and Professional Students
In addition to the Graduate Writing Service, international graduate and professional students may receive support for writing, presentations, and pronunciation offered by tutors trained by the English Language Support Office (ELSO). Learn more about any of the following ELSO offerings.
For writing and presenting, tutors work with any type of project, including research articles, CVs, resumes, personal statements, statements of purpose, grant proposals, and conference presentations. Tutors can work with clients on all levels, from language to overall structure, and at any step, from brainstorming to finalizing.
For pronunciation, tutors are focused on improving overall intelligibility by identifying areas of difficulty, making a plan to address these areas, and locating relevant resources for ongoing improvement. Pronunciation tutoring sessions may focus on a specific speaking context, such as a presentation, interview, thesis defense, lab report, or elevator speech.
Additional Support for International Graduate and Professional Students
The English Language Support Office (ELSO) offers bi-weekly workshops for international multilingual graduate and professional students on topics related to writing and speaking, such as crafting an effective writing process, conversational English, writing for the job search, and revising for organization and structure. Learn more or register for a workshop.
Conversational English Support
The English Language Support Office (ELSO) offers conversational English support through the Speaking Groups Program. In this program, small groups led by a volunteer from the Cornell community meet weekly for informal discussions, cross-cultural dialogue, and to make connections across campus. Learn more about this program and find out how to volunteer as a discussion leader or join as a group member.