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History and Mission

Department History, Mission, and Organization

Founded in 1868 as the department of Modern Languages, the Department of World Languages & Cultures (WLC) is housed in the College of Humanities (CoH). The WLC mission embraces the teaching, research, and public life dimensions of the College of Humanities and the mission of the University of Utah.

The department provides its students the opportunity to gain linguistic competency, cultural literacy, and the analytical framework to engage successfully and on a high level with the people and culture of a language community other than their own. To that purpose, we seek to combine the practical aspects of language acquisition with the development of interpretive skills at all levels of instruction. The emphasis on the practical goes back to the department’s inception. The entry under “Modern Languages” in the 1868-69 University of Deseret First Annual Catalogue reads: “In the department of Modern Languages, every effort will be made to render them practical. So far as possible, they will be made the communication medium between the Professor and [their] Classes.”

WLC faculty contribute to the university’s research mission in literary and cultural studies, linguistics, and second language (L2) pedagogy. The department teaches twenty-two languages, works of literature, and cultures, from beginning language classes to advanced and graduate seminars in various subject areas. WLC awards undergraduate and graduate degrees, minors, and certificates. We provide the instruction that makes the university BA language requirement possible.

The department is affiliated with several programs and centers housed in CoH and beyond, contributing teaching and research expertise and serving a variety of student interests. In addition, we support the university’s public life mission through lectures and programming in the community, community-based research projects, our Community-Engaged Learning and Continuing Education courses, and close cooperation with Utah’s Dual Language Immersion and Bridge Programs.

Last Updated: 6/5/24