Agenda Item No. V. A. 4. b.

Washburn University Board of Regents



The attached proposal for a foreign language requirement for the Bachelor of Arts Degree was approved by the College of Arts and Sciences College Faculty Council on Setpember 9, 1998 and by the University Council on November 12, 1998. The General Faculty approved the proposal at its meeting on January 28, 1999.



President Farley recommends Board of Regents approval of the Language Requirement for the Bachelor of Arts Degree.

______________________________ __________________________________

(date) Jerry B. Farley, President

Language Requirement Proposal

Candidates for the B.A. degree must successfully complete the 102 level course in one of the languages offered by the Department of International Studies, or the equivalent. Course work taken to fulfill this requirement may not be applied toward general education requirements for completing the B.A. degree. (The 101 level courses will not count for general education credit. The 102 level courses have been approved by the General Education Committee and will continue to fulfill general education requirements for all degrees other than the B.A. degree.) Equivalents of the required course work are defined as follows:

-- successful completion of a similar course of study in a foreign language taken at an accredited post secondary institution.

-- successfully challenging the departmentally administered 102 level examinations or a score of "4" or higher on the AP or CLEP foreign language examinations. Note: Native speakers of any of the languages taught by the department may not receive credit for any 100 level courses.

-- acceptance into a regular credit-bearing academic program of study by students whose native language is not English.


The study of a foreign language has long been considered a core component of a liberal arts program. The inclusion of a foreign language requirement remains the case in all regional universities in Kansas except Washburn. Tradition aside and from a very practical point of view, the demand if not requirement for internationally competent employees is no longer a rumor; it is here. According to a survey done of approximately 350 academic and corporate administrators at the CEO and provost levels in 1997, the Rand Corporation found the skills desired, in addition to the usual domain knowledge, character, and work ethic, was multi-cultural experience. Their working definition of multi-cultural experience was "an internationalized understanding plus the attitudes, skills and domain knowledge needed to apply it effectively in a specific context." What they were finding was: a slighting of the international dimensions of academic majors; general education requirements sometimes omit world history, geography, comparative politics and foreign language. The firms said they did not feel they could rely on U.S. colleges and universities to provide them with workers who had the necessary skills for the global market place. One CEO commented: "Overseas we recruit people to work anywhere in the world. In North America we recruit people to work in the home country."

A year's study in any second language lays the principal groundwork for becoming internationally competent in any foreign context, that is, it develops a working notion that foreign cultures look at the world differently than we do, do some things differently and expect that we should respect these differences. One observation offered by the Dean's Advisory Committee of Boston University (which was part of the successful defense of the language requirement of that university when it was challenged by a student before the Supreme Court this year) seems appropriate here: "No content course taught in English can substitute fully for the insider access to other cultures with its attendant invitation to thoroughgoing critical self-awareness that is the hallmark of foreign language study."

Students who fulfill this minimum requirement cannot expect to know the foreign language. They will speak, read and write it only minimally, but they will know how to develop these skills further and do so efficiently. Moreover, they will learn and exercise the skills of analysis and synthesis extensively.

Very few students will avoid enrolling at Washburn because there is a language requirement. Students completing the recommended Kansas college preparatory curriculum in high school will present two years of foreign language study in the same language and, in most instances, can enter at the 102 level. In-coming freshmen will regard a language requirement no differently than, for example, the mathematics or general education requirement.

[ WU Home ] [ Directory ] [ A-Z Index ] [ Sitemap ] [ Contact WU ] [ Statements & Disclosures ] [ Accessibility ] [ Search ]
© 2014 Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave, Topeka, Kansas 66621 (785) 670-1010
Contact with questions or comments.