New courses to help internationalize College

Faculty and students in Emory College can embark on an academic adventure next fall when several new courses are launched as part of the Languages Across the Curriculum (L.A.C.) program. Four faculty members have developed L.A.C. courses in anthropology, history, political science and sociology. The courses will have an integrated language component in which part of the course will be taught in a foreign language.

"What we hope to accomplish with the L.A.C. program is to internationalize the curriculum for students and give immediate and prolonged ways for them to use their language skills," said Viola Westbrook, senior lecturer in German studies and co-chair of the ad hoc Task Force on Languages Across the Curriculum. "We also hope to stimulate faculty to work with each other, to stimulate the language skills of the faculty and to stimulate members of the language faculty to deeper knowledge in other fields. We're very interested in the faculty development potential of this program."

"In so many of our language acquisition courses, students learn the language but don't apply it to anything else; it's learned in a vacuum," said Garland Richmond, associate professor of German studies and co-chair of the ad hoc task force. "Learning a language is a skill, like learning to play basketball; it needs to be used to stay sharp. Also, many faculty who teach in the disciplines actively use another language in their research, so it's natural to say let's try doing some teaching in the language," said Richmond.

Westbrook and Richmond hope to add to the four courses that will be taught next fall. "The Center for Teaching and Curriculum has invited faculty to submit proposals to develop courses for the spring semester 1998," said Westbrook. Faculty whose proposals are selected will receive $2,500 stipends to develop the course during the holiday break so it can be approved by the Curriculum Committee next spring. The Curriculum Committee has approved in principle the Languages Across the Curriculum, but each course needs approval. "David Bright (dean of Emory College) has been interested and supportive of L.A.C. and provided these funds through the Center for Teaching and Curriculum," said Richmond.

Regina Werum, associate professor of sociology, designed one of the four courses that will be offered next fall. Her course, "Race and Ethnic Relations," will be taught in English, but there will be extra credit readings. Students who complete those readings in English will receive extra points to boost their grade; students who complete the readings in German and attend an extra one-hour weekly discussion group will receive one extra course credit.

"In order to understand race and ethnic conflict, you have to look at it in a comparative perspective," said Werum, who is a native German speaker. "Two thirds of the course content is on the United States, but one-third is on ethnic conflict globally. Using foreign language texts will help students understand the perspective of the people in that country on these conflicts."

The L.A.C. program is part of a national trend to get languages into the heart of the curriculum, said Westbrook. An ad hoc task force of 12 faculty members, some from language departments and some from other disciplines who use another language, began its work in 1994. The group first looked at courses in the curriculum that focused on other cultures to determine the level of faculty interest; some 19 faculty members in the College expressed interested in teaching L.A.C. courses in German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese and Arabic.

The committee also surveyed students and faculty to determine their level of interest and to determine where language skills intersected with content areas. A consultant from Brown University's Center for Language and Culture came to campus to talk with interested faculty.

Three models exist for offering a L.A.C. course. In the first, about 25 percent of the readings can be done in a foreign language, and students receive a notation on their transcript indicating that the course was an "applied language" course. In the second, L.A.C. students do some of the readings in the foreign language and attend an extra one-hour discussion session per week conducted in the foreign language; students earn an extra hour of credit, and their transcript will show that the course was an applied language course. In the third, the course is conducted entirely in a foreign language; student transcripts would reflect that the course was conducted in a foreign language.

"This program is timely in terms of the emphasis on internationalizing Emory," said West-brook. "But internationalization needs to be deeper than skin deep; students need to know the language and put their language skills to use in the pursuit of their academic goals."

Richmond, who admitted a passion for Bach, indicated a desire to get involved in helping to teach a music L.A.C. course. "There are fascinating things being taught at Emory outside the American and British traditions," he said. "Offering these L.A.C. courses is another way into them."

--Jan Gleason

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