Dr Mark Dean Brantner, who teaches Writing and Critical Thinking (WCT), as well as Humanities and Social Sciences at the University Scholars Programme (USP), has helped place NUS among an illustrious group of top liberal arts colleges in North America such as Duke University, University of Toronto and Carleton College.
In March 2019, NUS’ WCT programme, which was established in 2004 under USP, was awarded the Conference on College Composition & Communication (CCCC) Writing Program Certificate of Excellence. The distinction of being globally recognised as an outstanding international programme was all the more rewarding as this was the first attempt put forth by USP for the award.
The CCCC is a constituent organisation within the National Council of Teachers of English, a US-based professional organisation, dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education.
The CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence validates the quality of instruction in writing and critical thinking received by USP students. It also acts as a benchmark that measures USP’s writing and critical thinking programme against equivalent programmes while acknowledging its various intellectually rigorous strengths.
Both Dr Brantner and Dr Yew Kong Leong, coordinators of the USP Writing Centre and the WCT programme respectively, received the award at the CCCC Annual Convention in Pittsburgh on 15 March 2019. Dr Brantner is extremely proud of the WCT curriculum and faculty members. “Our faculty members are very dedicated and offer world-class instruction in written expression and critical thinking,” he said. “This award testifies to their dedication, expertise and abilities.”
From left to right: CCCC Associate Chair Prof Vershawn Ashanti Young from University of Waterloo, Dr Yew, Dr Brantner, and CCCC Chair Prof Asao B Inoue from University of Washington Tacoma at the CCCC Annual Convention in Pittsburgh
Dr Brantner explained that USP has been building on the success of their pioneering WCT programme, with strong efforts made to connect its writing curriculum to both the discipline of writing studies and the local context. Of particular note are the small class sizes of 12 students which allow for robust, individualised feedback and attention to student writing; and the publication of a personal journal which recognises and celebrates the prior year’s most successful undergraduate achievements.
Dr Brantner shared that he felt excited receiving the award the second time. He was first awarded the CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence when he was an interim writing programme administrator at Binghamton University from 2010 to 2011.
Looking ahead, Dr Brantner intends to continue with best practices to ensure that the WCT programme benefits many more USP students.