About the COSP Writing Initiative

The COSP Writing Initiative strives to build communities of practice by fostering writing communities that affirm and acknowledge our students’ marginalized identities. Through individual writing consultations and writing related programming, the COSP Writing Initiative cultivates spaces where COSP Scholars are supported in their writing practice and grounded in community. 

Writing Resources

Show Up & Write (SUAW)

The Writing Initiative holds this space for COSP Scholars to write together in community. At the start of each session, writers share their individual writing projects and goals with the group and end the session by sharing their accomplishments. Individual writing consultations are available during the SUAW. 

COSP Small Writing Groups

COSP Small Writing Groups are designed to bring together COSP Scholars (typically 3-6 per group) during the writing process through shared writing objectives and a defined writing practice. COSP Small Writing Groups are formed at the start of each semester (including during the summer) and typically run 12-14 weeks. The COSP Writing Initiative facilitates the first meeting in order to collectively define the purpose, structure, format, and methods that best meet the goals of each COSP Small Writing Group, as well as provide ongoing support, as necessary. 

COSP Writing Workshops

The Community of Scholars Program offers writing related workshops, including faculty panels, throughout the academic year. Recent workshops have included:

  • 3-day Science Writing Bootcamp, led by Asst. Professor Kumi Smith & Maija Brown, Ph.D. 
  • Inclusive Science Communication, led by Dr. Sunshine Menezes

COSP Annual Writing Retreat

The COSP Annual Writing Retreat is a week-long writing retreat that offers COSP Scholars a sustained period of time to devote to their larger writing projects. During the retreat there is intentional time and space for group reflection and dialogue around experiences of writing and facilitated workshops over the lunch hour. 

SPARK (COSP Digital Platform) 

SPARK is a public digital platform/publication where COSP Scholars can craft engaging stories, in a variety of formats, about their research. SPARK values community, innovation, creativity, language accessibility, and public scholarship. Led by the SPARK Editorial Board, SPARK is committed to developing writers through a collaborative approach to publishing research. 

Individual Writing Consultations

COSP Scholars can receive individual support on their writing projects by signing up for a writing consultation. 

COSP Writing Initiative Consultation Practices 

At the COSP Writing Initiative, our writing consultancy practice is grounded in providing support for writers at any stage of the writing process. Writing consultants focus on the areas writers identify as needing support, provide resources, and strive to empower underrepresented writers by drawing attention to writers’ intentions, writing process, writerly voice, and agency. We have a strong commitment to practicing non-violence in our writing consultations and written feedback by posing clarifying questions, making observational and non-evaluative written comments, and actively listening to writers’ concerns.

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  • Regular consultations beginning with a thesis/dissertation introduction and moving on to theoretical frameworks, methodology, etc…
  • Preliminary papers
  • Dissertation prospectus 
  • Book chapters 


  • Teaching Statements/Research Statements/Diversity Statements
  • Cover letters
  • CVs and resumes 
  • Writing discipline specific research for a wide audience (i.e SPARK submissions). 
  • Powerpoint slide presentations
  • Professional presentations


  • Grant/Fellowship Research Statements
  • Personal Statements
  • Graduate School applications

Writing Process

  • Helping writers become unstuck 
  • Developing sustainable writing habits
  • Mindmapping
  • Time management/writing project timelines
  • Reverse outlining
  • Talking out your research

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What to expect (Due to COVID, all of our consultations will take place remotely)

Individual writing consultations typically take between 30 minutes to 60 minutes. You do not need to have any writing for a consultation. We are happy to work with you at whatever stage you are at in your writing process. If you would like a writing consultant to read and provide comments before your consultation, this is highly recommended, please schedule two 1-hour appointments (the first appointment for “Reading & Commenting” and the second appointment for the “Consultation”). When you schedule an appointment, you can indicate in the drop down box whether your appointment is for “Reading & Commenting” or a “Consultation”. Please note, “Reading & Commenting” appointments do not need to be consecutive to “Consultation” appointments. 
Writing consultants can provide comments on up to 10-12 pages, double spaced. If you provide a longer document, please indicate what section(s) of the document you would like the writing consultant to address. Documents can be attached in umn.mywconline as word documents, or as URLs to google documents. Longer papers may require multiple appointments. 
When you are making your appointment, please provide any additional information that may be useful to the writing consultant, i.e. descriptions of guidelines, rubrics, deadlines, etc… Lastly, please provide any feedback you would like your writing consultant to specifically address. 

How to Schedule an Appointment

Appointments can be made at umn.mywconline.net. If this is your first appointment, you will need to register (only takes 1 minute). Click here for detailed instructions on signing up for an individual consultation. Please contact Maija Brown, Writing Initiative Coordinator, brow0723@umn.edu if you cannot meet during available times in umn.mywconline.net. 

1. After you have registered, select the academic term in which you’d like to schedule a consultation. Note: you do not need to select the correct term in order to log-in. Once you have logged in, there will be an option to change the term.

COSP Writing Consultation Scheduling

2. Once you have logged in, be sure to select the current academic term using the top-left of the screen. Note: your page will have your name listed.

COSP Writing Consultation Scheduling

3. To make an appointment, select the time you would like to meet by clicking on an available time slot. This will open a new window with the title “Create New Appointment.” If a new window does not open, try disabling any pop-up blockers you may have and refresh the page. 

4. In the “Create New Appointment” window, you can change the length of time for the appointment.

COSP Writing Consultation Scheduling
  • “Reading and Commenting” - a 1-hour space for the writing consultant you selected to read your submitted writing and offer written feedback on your document. This type of appointment can be helpful at various stages in the writing process. 
  • “Consultation” - a 30-minute or 1-hour meeting with a writing consultant. They are great if you want to have a virtual meeting with one of our writing consultants. These appointments can be used in a variety of ways including: figuring out what to write about for a term paper, discussing writing strategies. 

Please note: when you schedule a “Reading and Commenting” appointment, you must also schedule a “Consultation” appointment to go over feedback and comments. 

Both options have their benefits. Feel free to try them out to see what works best for you and your writing. 

5. Further down on the “Create New Appointment” page, you will be asked to indicate 1) the purpose of your appointment, 2) the type of project you are working on, and 3) the areas in your writing that you would like to focus on in your consultation. 

COSP Writing Consultation Scheduling

6. After you have responded to the above questions, you can upload the documents that you’d like a writing consultant to look at. 

COSP Writing Consultation Scheduling

Depending on your writing concerns or needs, you may choose not to upload a document. For example, if you scheduled a “Consultation” appointment with the intention of brainstorming some ideas, you may choose not to upload anything. Note: if you are using a Google Doc, you can paste the URL in the text box. Please be sure to give the writing consultant you are working with the ability to make comments on your Google Doc.

7. All that’s left is to click on the “Create Appointment” button. We can’t wait to work with you and support you and your writing during your graduate school journey!

View Upcoming Workshops & Events

Who We Are: Writing Initiative Staff

Maija Brown, headshot

Maija Brown, Assistant Director, Transition and Retention, COSP Writing Initiative Coordinator, PH.D.

Maija Brown leads the Writing Initiative for the Community of Scholars Program. She strives to build inclusive writing communities, and provides individual writing support for COSP Scholars. As an educator, Maija has taught theater/dance courses that examine histories of race and gender in performance, and has facilitated and led movement/embodiment workshops for more than a decade. Her writing consultancy pedagogy is grounded in a practice of mutual respect, trust, and listening to the concerns of writers. She fosters writers taking ownership of their writing by encouraging writers to reflect on their writing practices, and by addressing the ways writerly identity and academic identity are often intertwined. Lastly, Maija focuses on cultivating an awareness of writers’ bodies as a way to anchor and empower writers in their writing process. 

Contact Maija

Sunga Kufeyani


As a graduate writing consultant, Sunga is committed to establishing a safe and supportive environment that ensures that writers can express themselves authentically. Specifically, she is interested in helping COSP writers demonstrate their commitment and passion to their field and work through their writing. Sunga believes writing is an iterative process and that iteration helps us become better writers. She enjoys writing about advocacy, education programs, and community-centered design. Some of her work this summer was featured in Alliance magazine and Global Fund For Children. She is interested in human rights and social and educational policies, but she is incredibly passionate about working with communities to develop educational programs, especially in marginalized communities experiencing poverty.