New School of Global Studies and Languages is approved

Friendly Hall

The College of Arts and Sciences will introduce the new School of Global Studies and Languages this fall.

The University Senate approved the school at the end of April. The school will bring together roughly 100 core faculty members across four language and literature departments, five area studies programs, the Yamada Language Center, and the Global Studies department.  

The school is premised on the idea that the opportunities of the 21st century are most accessible through the skills and knowledge of diverse languages, histories, cultures and traditions.

The UO is already ranked as one of the top universities in the nation to study languages, with both Chinese and Japanese language degrees ranking at No. 4 in the nation for 2019 annual degrees, and Spanish language degrees at No. 6 in the nation. The school aims to train tomorrow’s global leaders holistically, while offering pathways for students to be successful in their global careers. 

“Over the past year, faculty have worked very hard to envision a school where our existing strengths are the foundation for an innovative curriculum that will attract students to the UO for the unique education and training we will provide them as future global leaders,” said Bruce Blonigen, Tykeson Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  

The school will debut a cutting-edge global studies major and introduce new, interdisciplinary courses taught by paired humanities and social sciences faculty members. It also plans to partner with other College of Arts and Sciences departments, as well as UO professional schools, to offer career pathways for students to major or minor in languages, global studies and professional degrees. 

Through experiential learning programs, new ways to study languages and apply them outside of the classroom, and improved support services to guide students towards postgraduate careers, the school will be the hub for global careers and language learning at the UO. 

“The other 95 percent of humanity has a great deal to teach us. We must all work together to ensure the health of the planet, of its people, and of its political, economic, social, technological and ecological systems,” said Ian McNeely, professor of history and co-chair of the school’s faculty steering committee. “Building a career, building a life, will depend on that insight even more in future decades. That’s why the new school will be so significant for current and future students looking to step into a global career.”

Building from the global studies major, McNeely explains, the school will offer a multitude of fascinating courses and useful degree programs, and the chance to learn from faculty members and fellow students with a passion for languages, cultures and global challenges. Students will apply their knowledge and skills beyond campus through local internships in Eugene, experiential learning opportunities across the U.S., and studying and working in other countries during their time at the UO. 

Students of the new school can expect a student-centered curriculum that combines the humanities and social sciences along with critical language learning. The school will also offer career-appropriate, professional pathways into global careers in such areas as health, foreign policy, environment and development work that will allow students to translate foundational skills in the liberal arts and social sciences directly into their personal and professional futures.  

“Currently, students have a lot of opportunities to study and work in international contexts,” said David Wacks, head of romance languages and the other co-chair of the steering committee. “The School of Global Studies and Languages will bring together all these opportunities in one place and focus on connecting students with multiple opportunities to learn languages, study and work internationally, enroll in community-engaged coursework, study abroad, and global studies keystone experiences such as residency in the Global Scholars Academic Residential Community.”  

Community engagement and hands-on learning will be major components of the school and will be integrated across its curriculum in both majors and minors. Students will have the opportunity to conduct globally focused research while completing a thesis project, and capstone courses will center on global community engagement. 

Students will connect coursework in languages and global studies with local businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and community organizations to make the most of their time in the school. 

An emphasis on immersive language study will also be a major facet of the new school, whether studying in the U.S. or abroad. Immersion in a language — hearing it and speaking it every day — is widely viewed as the most effective way to learn a language and is a direct pathway to professional proficiency in a language. The school will coordinate with study abroad programs in Global Education Oregon to connect students with global opportunities to immerse themselves in another language.

The new school also will support current scholarship through global forum research talks where faculty members and graduate students present their scholarship in a research seminar series.

The school plans to explore the creation of curriculum in graduate education and the development of professional master’s programs and specializations in global careers. Friendly Hall will be the new home of the school, with renovations to create more student-friendly spaces to come.          

—By Victoria Sanchez, University Communications