3.8 Enlightened vocationalism in a Writing, Editing, Publishing Programme: Effecting excellence

Since the year 2000, when I designed and initiated the Writing, Editing, Publishing Programme at The University of Queensland, graduates have successfully gained employment at prestigious institutions such as the British Standards Institution and the Southbank Centre in London; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and in many international publishing houses. The master’s programme is full fee-paying ($25,000, though students can elect to defer their fees). Enrolments have remained very strong with an intake of around 50 students each year.

These outcomes have been achieved in an arena where excellence is expected and reciprocated. The activities that my staff and I have facilitated for students include interning in writing centres, publishing houses, and institutes,  and on academic journals; co-writing and presenting papers at conferences; co-editing of Conference  Proceedings for a university in New York; co-consulting in the corporate workplace; volunteering as stewards at the annual Oxford Literary Festival and at the Brisbane Writers Festival; tutoring of students in undergraduate Writing classes; guest-lecturing by graduates to the current cohort; articulating into doctoral programmes; working as a research assistant on a Grammar MOOC that the university has commissioned me to construct; and developing strong peer networks in Australia and overseas. Networking is a key feature of the programme.

The cohort comprises graduates from undergraduate degrees in the Arts, Journalism, Law, Business, Music, Science, Economics, Medicine, Accounting, etc.  There is a vibrant social programme and a dynamic online community. The programme has a wiki and a FaceBook page, each of which has more than 300 participants.

The paper will analyse the reasons for the ongoing momentum of the programme and the measures of its success in transforming the lives of so many students through its imaginative and intellectually rich, though vocationally oriented, teaching and learning.