English degree programs and proficiency courses unite under one department
LAU’s new Department of English will be home to a variety of language courses, as well as a new B.A. in English and a M.A. in Comparative Literature.
“In 1966, when I first came to LAU as a freshman student, I asked after the English department and was referred to the registrar’s office,” recalls Assistant Dean of the university’s School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Nahla Bacha. “I continued asking and here we are,” she says gleefully, referring to the newly launched English department.
Until this year, LAU’s English programs were run under the Department of Humanities. “It’s been long overdue. All universities in the U.S. have English departments and strictly speaking English does not belong with the humanities,” says Bacha, who is also interim chair of the humanities department.
The new English department will house all the university’s English language courses, formerly operated under the Department of English Language Instruction (DELI), as well as both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree. As of Fall 2014, the B.A. in English Studies will replace the B.A. in English Literature and Language, which Bacha herself graduated from while the master’s program will be in comparative literature.
“The new degree is far more interdisciplinary and includes creative writing as a third discipline alongside language and literature,” points out Bacha, a graduate of the University of Leicester, where she earned her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
The motivation behind the new department, she explains, was a desire to fulfill the university’s strategic plan that calls for continuous academic improvement, “especially in English, which serves the whole university.” Bacha spearheaded the initiative and chaired the committee that prepared and presented the proposal for its establishment to the various stakeholders.
The proposal emphasizes that departments of English are central to medium English institutions, such as LAU, not only in offering support to students to cope with and excel at their studies in the target language, but also in offering and reinforcing the liberal arts education of which LAU is a strong proponent. It also stresses that bringing together the courses offered by DELI, which aim to improve students’ English language proficiency and communication skills, with the university’s English degree programs will create a more harmonious structure.
Some fifty years after she joined LAU as a freshman to study English, Bacha will be moving to the new department as a professor of English.