Green Bay, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents last week approved University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s proposal for a new writing degree in response to student, employer and publishing industry demand for graduates with exceptional writing skills infused with creativity. The University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Writing and Applied Arts major is designed to professionalize opportunities in fields like literary and digital publishing, book editing, writing for entertainment and arts management.
“Writing is a skill in universal demand across industries,” notes Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Chuck Rybak. “Whether we are talking about corporate publications, writing grants for the nonprofit sector, writing for entertainment, or striving to be the next JK Rowling, a finely-honed craft is required. The BFA degree in Writing and Applied Arts will provide an intense focus on the craft of writing across genres and platforms.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of writers and authors is projected to grow eight percent from 2016 to 2026, consistent with the average for all occupations. In fields related to creative writing, the Department of Labor projects 11% growth in jobs for technical writers and 10% growth in public relations and fundraising managers.
In Wisconsin, jobs for writers and editors like technical writing, digital editing, social media, library sciences, community relations and social services are expected to grow between seven and 10% and 14% nationwide.
The BFA in Writing and Fine Arts is a rare degree — only 42 colleges in the U.S. offer it. No other UW System college has the major, although it is offered by one private college in the state. This will be the first new four-year degree to be offered across the four UW-Green Bay campuses, with coursework available in a range of delivery options.
UW-Green Bay English program chair, Rebecca Meacham, notes that graduates from the program will be equipped to meet market demand for nonfiction writers, science writers, screenwriters, podcasters, literary outreach coordinators, editors, publishers, librarians, booksellers, literary agents, technical writers and other arts industry professions. It will also teach students about writing as a business and includes the curricular components of the business of writing, the craft of writing, literary contexts and applied arts. The program will begin accepting students in Fall 2019 and conforms to the standards of the Association for Writers and Writing Programs.
Businesses in the region are supportive of the new program and confirm that there’s a market demand for writers.
“This program will create a new generation of writers with skills that can be applied to any number of disciplines,” says Megan Dickman, principal owner and writer with Crystal Clear Resources, a Green Bay-based writing, editing and translation firm. “In my own experience, the business world is as in need of a great storyteller as every other field, and writers are uniquely equipped to make abstract ideas tangible and accessible to a wide audience.”
According to Meacham, the industry for making, publishing, editing and producing books — especially printed books —is strong and improving and BFA students will develop skills in communications, audience awareness, listening, empathy, communicating complex ideas and critical thinking — skills ranked in the top 10 most sought-after qualities by job recruiters.
A collaborative program with Moraine Park Technical College, NWTC and UW-Green Bay, the BFA in Writing and Applied Arts will be a natural fit for technical college students wishing to complete further study in writing, publication design and community engagement.
“UW-Green Bay is uniquely situated to connect student writers to the greater world and various kinds of writing, building on Green Bay’s growing reputation as a literary and community arts advocacy destination,” said Meacham. “When you consider the popularity of great storytelling today, in all genres, on the page, stage, and screen — Game of Thrones, Hamilton, Handmaid’s Tale — we are truly in the midst of a renaissance period for writers.”
About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to nearly 8,000 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.