IWT is a program of Bard College, an institution that has long been at the vanguard of secondary education, establishing early college programs for intellectually curious high school students at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts and at Bard High School Early Colleges in Manhattan, Queens, and Newark.


The establishment of IWT in 1982 was part of Bard College President Leon Botstein’s response to what he saw to be a lack of substance and depth in students’ writing. Like the Workshop in Language and Thinking, the mandatory, three-week session for all incoming first-year Bard students—what the New York Times called a “boot camp for writers”—, IWT grew out President Botstein’s vision of the need to address a growing, widespread inability on the part of students to express their sophisticated ideas in writing. The mission of L&T is to help students think more deeply and to read challenging texts more closely through writing. IWT continues to collaborate with the L&T program, whose practices are often reflected in workshops.

“If writing is thinking and discovery and selection and order and meaning, it is also awe and reverence and mystery and magic.” 

—Toni Morrison

Since IWT’s founding, an expert faculty representing the fields of composition, literature, philosophy, art, and science from diverse institutions across the country continue to develop and refine writing practices. These associates work with one another through ongoing conversations about teaching and writing, continuing to learn about what writing is and can be for their students and transmitting their knowledge and experience to teachers in IWT’s workshops.