Each student at Columbia takes a semester of University Writing, a course designed to help students cultivate their scholarly voices. University Writing is one of the classes in Columbia’s Core Curriculum—the set of common courses that each undergraduate takes in preparation both for a rigorous college career as well as a life marked by curiosity and inquiry. University Writing endeavors to help shape and sustain a student body that is committed to expressing itself with grace and clarity. We believe that writing is at the heart of the university’s mission: writing is not merely the manifestation of thought but involves the discovery and transformation of ideas. It is through writing that students move from being passive learners to active participants in an intellectual community.

Rather than approaching writing as an innate talent, UW teaches writing as a unique, learned skill that can be practiced and developed. There are over 70 sections of University Writing taught each semester. Each class adheres to the principle that academic writing begins from a place of deep inquiry. We ask students to develop projects that spring from intellectual problems; the boldest and most persuasive arguments often emerge only after rigorous and sustained engagement with intellectual questions that seem to resist obvious answers.

Essays in The Morningside Review exemplify the wide range of voices that our students develop as they strive to establish themselves as interlocutors in various intellectual communities. We encourage spillover from the writing classroom: we hope that our students take the skills and habits of mind from UW into their other classes and into the world. One of the ambitions of University Writing is to enable our students to invigorate civic discourse. In that spirit, we invite you to use these essays to deepen your own thinking and as inspiration for your own writing. Enjoy!

—Aaron Ritzenberg, PhD
Associate Director, First-Year Writing