Faculty to consider combining Arts and Sciences departments

Comparative Ethnic Studies, American Studies could join Foreign Languages and Cultures


OLIVER McKENNA | The Daily Evergreen

Jolyon Hughes, Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures, talks about the proposed plan to combine the Comparative Ethnic Studies department and the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures which could potentially lead to the emergence of new programs for students.

LINH NGUYEN, Evergreen reporter

A Faculty Senate proposal could merge three departments into one.

If passed, the proposal would combine the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures with Comparative Ethnic Studies and American Studies.

The proposal will be presented to the Faculty Senate this semester, according to a letter from Jolyon T. Hughes, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages. He predicted the proposal would go forth in February.

“This is a way to amplify and help create better and bigger programs,” Hughes said.

Two years ago, the provost tasked the department with expanding available curriculum. Program growth and new grants, Hughes said, could help make that change.

“The proposal was made with the students in mind,” Hughes said. “To try to retain programs, to retain classes, and to make sure students had more options.”

He said the departments’ current staffs are separate and work independently of each other. The change would involve merging graduate programs and cross-department communication. Staff members from all departments would be able to teach curriculum that interconnected between languages and culture.

Hughes said the proposed collaboration would bring in a variety of material. He chaired one of two committees that sorted out the proposal’s details. After working on it over the summer, he said, the committees finalized the proposal and sent it to the provost’s office Oct. 31.

“Nothing has been decided,” Hughes said. “This is just a proposal, so there’s nothing set in stone.”

In addition, the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures received multiple grants to aid their upcoming summer programs.

One of the grants included $15,000 for an excursion to Vienna, Austria, for students studying German language. The Max Kade Institute, a German-American Studies research center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supplied the funds.

Clinical associate professor of German Joshua Bonzo is leading a beginner-level program to Berlin this summer.

Although he did not apply for any of the incoming grants, Bonzo said the German program at WSU is very enriching. He said these departments’ programs help students get involved in international interactions through language and cultural experience.

“They care about their students,” Bonzo said. “They want to see their students succeed.”