Department of Rhetoric & Writing
Department of Rhetoric & Writing


FYF Description and Goals

As the largest university in the nation, UT faces a serious challenge:
How can we transform a campus of 50,000+ people into an intellectual community?

The DRW’s First-Year Forum contributes to that ongoing effort.

Established in 1998 by John Ruszkiewicz, the First-Year Forum is a series of in-class and out-of-class activities based on a single book—a significant, extended piece of prose that is chosen annually by DRW faculty and instructors. The FYF text is the cornerstone of RHE 306, the required first-year writing course. In class, students identify the ways the chosen book models sound rhetorical principles, and they analyze and discuss the public controversies in which it participates. Outside of class, they have many opportunities to continue engaging the book’s central issues—by participating in discussion groups, constructing websites, contributing to panel presentations and writing contests, and attending the First-Year Forum Lecture.

By providing students with a common, challenging reading as they begin their undergraduate education the University of Texas at Austin, the First-Year Forum supports the University’s goal of creating bonds of shared interest and experience among undergraduates. And by asking students to give sustained and serious attention to a major public issue, the Forum helps them appreciate both the practical and intellectual dimensions of a required course in writing, and prepares them to participate in public discourse beyond the UT campus.