Scholars’ Retreats provide intensive, focused, and supervised writing time for individuals working on dissertations, theses, and other writing projects. These are multiple-day workshops in which faculty members and/or graduate students work on their writing projects individually under the guidance of Dr. Sonja Foss and Dr. William Waters.

Daily meetings with Sonja and William take the form of intensive conversations in which participants feel both supported and challenged as they talk through whatever aspect of their thesis, dissertation, article, or book with which they need assistance. Participants discover that Sonja and William’s friendly and supportive questions lead to profound insights that transfer into realistic expectations, clear goals, and concrete strategies.

The coaching sessions at the Retreat help participants solve whatever their particular issues or questions are, but typical topics covered in the coaching sessions include:

  • Conceptualizing a project
  • Assessing a project to ensure an aligned and doable research design
  • Coding literature to handle massive amounts of literature efficiently
  • Developing an original and sophisticated explanatory schema from data
  • Overcoming writing blocks
  • Managing time effectively
  • Developing strategies for writing regularly
  • Energizing and motivating



“Sonja and William’s coaching and advising, through the Scholars’ Retreat, are the reasons I actually finished my dissertation in less than a lifetime.”

“Oddly enough, William and Sonja seemed to have a better handle on my project than I did! Their clarity about research design helped me figure out what was I was really trying to do, and I was able to progress quickly on my article after that.”

“Scholars’ Retreat was such a powerful experience, both professionally and personally. Not only did I receive excellent guidance and direction about how to proceed with analyzing and interpreting my data, but they were provided with care and genuine concern.”

“The personal feedback is the true value of Scholars’ Retreat and priceless.”

“Sonja and William talk through the theory with the person to unearth missing links and help us get clarity on our projects.”

“Your techniques and approaches to mounds of data are what people need to know before they waste years trying to figure out how to cope!”

“Sonja and William have an amazing toolbox of processes that make doing all of the things involved in doing research and writing it up clear, concrete, and doable.”

“During the Retreat, I knew that when I asked a question or sought help that I would be treated with respect and patience. I could let down my guard; I knew that I was in a safe place where learning doesn’t have to be painful to my ego or esteem.”

“I have renewed energy about my work and better focus on how I can go about getting my work done. Now, when I’m not writing, I find myself eager to get back to it.”

“Sonja and William have thought of everything from what’s needed on a day-to-day basis and everything necessary to complete our writing goals. The best features of this workshop are the writing/research techniques and tools. These, coupled with the one-on-one guidance, were wonderful! I learned how to focus on my writing, organize data, develop a scheme, sketch write so the details can be filled in later. My project is much stronger because of Sonja and William.”

“Both Sonja and William are very skillful in their ability to understand, mentor, advise, and communicate! I learned to have a complete/comprehensive picture/outline of my project, an explanatory schema, and the confidence to continue moving forward.”

“I stand in awe of Sonja and William’s talents and knowledge. They do an outstanding job of breaking down large tasks into manageable chunks. They are also a joy to be around. The process that Sonja and William offer is both accessible and useful. I learned the steps to follow for making sense of my scholarship. Moreover, I learned that I do have something to contribute to my discipline. I AM a scholar!”