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,"
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
"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."
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