Merging of Modern Language and English and Communications departments will promote interdisciplinary learning, dean says
Norwich University’s devotion to interdisciplinary learning will take another step forward this fall with the introduction of the Department of Global Humanities.
The department, led by Dr. Amy Woodbury Tease, will merge the Modern Languages and English and Communications departments. It will offer majors in English, Spanish and communications and minors in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, English, psychology, writing and communications.
Woodbury Tease, an associate professor of English, has long advocated for interdisciplinary learning. In 2019, she helped launch the Norwich Humanities Initiative, aided by a $35,000 Humanities Connections Planning Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In the initiative, which will enter its fourth academic year this fall, College of Liberal Arts faculty members team teach courses with College of Science and Mathematics and College of Professional Schools faculty members. Courses have included Narrative Medicine; Geoarchaeology of Lost Cities; True Crime; and Game Theory: Art of Strategy.
“Our vision for this new department is to create pathways for students to explore how the humanities can help to solve global problems,” said Woodbury Tease, who also led the annual Celebration of Excellence, a cross-campus, cross-disciplinary student research showcase.
Norwich University in 2020 received a three-year $100,000 Humanities Connections Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a $139,000 Davis Educational Foundation Implementation Grant to continue work on the Norwich Humanities Initiative.
College of Liberal Arts Dean Dr. Edward Kohn said the combined department will build on the strengths of its components and will create innovative, flexible, relevant curriculum for students.
“Both of the previous departments long dealt with issues of language, culture, and literature, yet in their own, separate silos,” Kohn wrote in an email. “President (Mark) Anarumo introduced to us the phrase, ‘Norwich Together.’ The new Department of Global Humanities embodies the idea of ‘Stronger Together.’”
Seeing the possbilities
Kohn added that new department reflects Norwich’s mission to create informed, global citizens with skills the marketplace wants — critical thinking, adaptability and effective communication. He added that faculty are already discussing new programs and courses. Every student at Norwich might be introduced to a language in the First Year Writing sequence, for example, or language might find new platforms through the Norwich Guidon student newspaper or WNUB Radio.
Dr. Kaitlin E. Thomas, an assistant professor of Spanish, agreed with Kohn, saying the new department will provide a platform for vital subject matter — world languages; communications; writing and rhetoric; and philosophy.
“The beginnings of their professional lives will be unavoidably punctuated by these things,” Thomas said, adding that she hopes to make Norwich a language-learning destination. “And our new department can, and will, provide the context and tools necessary to be successful and to contribute to a positive future trajectory for our nation.”
Woodbury Tease, meanwhile, said the initiative’s curriculum will add professionalization courses such as Professional Pathways in the Liberal Arts, Spanish for Law Enforcement, Spanish for Business and internships. She added that the new department’s cross-disciplinary learning will ensconce students in a welcoming, diverse community.
“Our graduates will be strong communicators, flexible thinkers, willing collaborators, and creators,” she said.
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