Photo courtesy of Kirsten Magas.
This is the third article in a recurring column giving students an inside look at what’s happening in each College at WCU, enabling them to better develop their education plans, course selections, and career tracks.
From Women’s and Gender Studies to Graphic Design, there’s no denying the broad range of academic opportunities available throughout the College of Arts and Humanities. With eight departments, eight interdisciplinary units and approximately 3,500 students — keeping up with the College of Arts and Humanities can be a challenge.
As Dr. Bacon, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities tells her faculty in each week’s “Monday Morning Memo,” there is always so much going on. A few of the bigger changes in and emerging from the College of Arts and Humanities pipeline are the addition of the new media and culture major, the adjustment of the communications major, redefinition of the English and women’s and gender studies departments and the creation of a new linguistics major.
The new linguistics major, predicted to launch within the next year, will not fall under a specific department but will instead live in-between as an interdisciplinary unit. When an area of study is classified as an interdisciplinary unit, that means that the program borrows courses from several departments. For example, Latin American and Latino/a studies is an interdisciplinary program. Students pursuing this minor are required to take courses from at least three of nine departments across three different colleges.
As linguistics grows from a minor to a major, the program will continue to tap into courses from the departments of communication sciences and disorders, communication and media, languages and cultures, computer science, English and philosophy; in addition to creating new courses that will examine more deeply the various aspects of language.
While the foundation of the new major is far from complete, there are other departmental changes further along in the curricular body and voting process. Although not all the transformations faculty are working on will be finalized, Bacon revealed that some of the changes in the communications major will for sure be in place by fall 2019.
Aside from new and adapting courses, students should also expect to see new faces in faculty. The College of Arts and Humanities currently has four searches for new professors underway. The College is finishing up hiring faculty in communications, women’s and gender studies, graphic design and creative writing.
Bacon stated that this steady growth in faculty is consistent over the past five years. “Last year maybe we hired six, but the year before that maybe only three. It really just depends on a balance between growth and on how many people retire in a given year.”
With English being the largest department in terms of faculty due to the amount of first-year writing that gets taught. Women’s and gender studies expanding as a relatively new program, and the communications and graphic design departments growing at the fastest rates. Because of this, it’s no surprise that the College of Arts and Humanities chose these programs to bring on new faculty.
Although communications is the largest department in terms of student count and graphic design is much smaller, the two are growing at a similar pace. When it comes to accommodating student growth in these programs, classroom space poses a challenge for one. Since most communications classes use general purpose rooms, these classes are often able to be taught in a variety of spaces.
Graphic design courses on the other hand require specific studio space and equipment, which is why the department has designated space in the E.O. Bull building. Bacon stated, “We’ve been adjusting as we go and adding as many sections as we can, but studio classes tend to last a little bit longer, and they’re kind of trunked because students need intense time to work, so we’re running the sections that we can in the space that we have.”
For anyone looking to experience the work of students in the College of Arts and Humanities, keep an eye out for the hundreds of events the College puts on each year. From theatre and dance productions, to the Dub-C Film Race, to guest speakers, to poets in residence, to art galleries, the amazing work students are producing is constantly on display and encouraged for all to enjoy.
Danielle Venino is a fourth-year majoring in communication studies with minors in journalism and media and culture. DV851965@wcupa.edu