English Department Expands Suite of Undergraduate Specializations
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
In an important shift, the English Department at UMass Amherst has begun a three-year trial project to raise the profile of specializations in the English major, more strongly encouraging its majors to complete at least one specialization in English and significantly expanding the suite of specializations offered.
Currently, the English major begins with English 200 Intensive Literary Studies, proceeds through a four-course requirement in British, American, and global Anglophone literatures, includes Junior Year Writing (English 300) and Integrative Experience (English 494), and ends with three electives. The department has long offered certificate and specialization options, like Professional Writing and Technical Communication and Creative Writing; the goal now is to better integrate such options into the major itself.
The three-year trial includes two changes: First, the department will be making the whole idea of specialization a more prominent part of the English major, strongly encouraging all majors, especially new ones, to add at least one specialization in English to their program. Second, the department is expanding significantly the suite of specializations offered, from five to ten, adding such new programs as “Environmental Humanities,” “Teaching the English Language Arts,” and “Social Justice: Race, Class, Gender, Ability.” All certificate and specialization options are open to non-majors as well.
The benefit to students? The changes will
- give more shape to the end of the major, helping students see how they can use their electives to go more deeply into one or more subfields of English, developing advanced knowledge and skills in those areas;
- provide all students majoring in English with at least one additional credential, complementing the broad knowledge and skills of “English” with a more specific, even career-supporting, credential;
- better represent to prospective and new majors the full range of English Studies in the department, showing them from the start the many different things they can study and do with “English.”
The changes are most evident in the department’s website, including revisions to the English Major requirements page and the Certificates and Specializations landing page; but they will also show up in the advising of majors, the “Orientation to the English Major” that is provided to English 200 students, and communications with prospective majors, including newly admitted students in the spring.
The suite of certificate and specialization options now includes American Studies; Creative Writing; Digital Humanities + Games; Environmental Humanities; Literature as History; Professional Writing and Technical Communication; Social Justice: Race, Class, Gender, Ability; The Study and Practice of Writing; Teaching the English Language Arts; and an Individualized Option.