LAWRENCE — Known for offering the most foreign languages in the region, the University of Kansas has established a new school to build upon its depth of expertise. The School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at KU was approved at the September Board of Regents meeting.
Creating a school solely for the study of languages and cultures enhances the visibility of KU’s strength in international expertise. The School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures will also serve as an initial point of contact for students interested in studying foreign languages and international cultures.
The nearly 40 languages taught at KU are unparalleled in the region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River. The school is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which is home to all departments that offer foreign language instruction at KU.
“This school solidifies KU as a premier destination for international study,” said Danny Anderson, dean of the College. “The future will be conducted in many languages other than English. It’s crucial that we prepare students not only with the ability to converse in other languages, but also to understand the cultural context of those interactions. By harnessing our strengths in regions around the world, we are uniquely positioned to offer a well-rounded education that prepares students to be culturally savvy leaders and representatives of our state and nation.”
The School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures will serve as both a destination and a portal to those interested in expanding their linguistic abilities and cultural awareness. The school brings together departments whose language and cultural expertise covers broad swaths of East Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America and South America: the departments of East Asian Languages & Cultures, French & Italian, Germanic Languages & Literatures, Slavic Languages & Literatures, and Spanish & Portuguese.
In all, the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures offers 20 degree programs and 25 languages. The school will continue to offer the same majors, minors and graduate degrees that each program offered before becoming part of the school.
The school will also serve as a gateway for students to discover affiliate departments, whose offerings complement those of the school. In combination, the school and affiliate departments nearly cover the globe. Affiliates’ programming rounds out the total of languages at KU to 40, and adds coverage in Africa and South Asia, as well as enhancing coverage of other areas of the world.
In addition to offering the most languages in the Great Plains, KU is home to five international area studies centers. The centers for East Asian Studies; Global & International Studies; Kansas African Studies; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; and Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies frequently receive federal funding to provide training and programming for K-12 educators and the community, as well as scholarships for students interested in studying critical languages. All area studies centers at KU will be affiliated partners with the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures.
Reflecting its standing as a leader in foreign language and international cultural expertise, KU is among the few universities in the U.S. with a school dedicated to such study. Faculty, staff and students on the planning committee researched models at other schools to consider best practices, while developing a proposal that is tailored to leverage KU’s unique strengths.
The designation of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures takes effect immediately. Over the course of the fall and spring semesters this academic year, faculty and staff of the school will begin to plan new offerings and programming that could be available as early as fall 2015.