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Advocacy for Threatened Programs

The last few years have seen the reduction and elimination of a significant number of language programs, degree programs, and departments of foreign languages and literatures. Admittedly, universities around the U.S. have faced the most severe budget shortfalls and cuts in memory, and almost every academic field and unit has suffered in some way. Yet when program reductions and eliminations are considered, it appears that language programs and departments are often first on the chopping block. This has sparked many renewed discussions of the purpose and viability of basic or advanced study of languages other than English at U.S. universities. Many of these discussions have been productive, leading to reforms such as those detailed in the 2007 MLA Ad Hoc report, but some have been feeble or knee-jerk, defensive moves that have ultimately failed to save programs. The problems that often crystallizes out of campus deliberations about cutting language programs and departments are that (1) genuine savings are not demonstrated, even for cutting degree programs with small numbers of majors (at least if the commitment to tenure is honored), and (2) programs with small numbers do not necessarily reflect a lack of (potential) student interest, rather they can be the product of long-term dwindling administrative/budgetary support, such that the programs have been 'starved' to their current small size, thereby making them easy targets for elimination.

When a program or department is threatened, the colleagues affected often feel helpless and overwhelmed. They must after all keep doing their regular jobs while responding to the threat! So, what is the most important thing to do when a language program or department is threatened with (more than reasonable) cuts, or with elimination? The most important thing is to NOT do nothing! There is a lot you can do. This site is intended to provide you with information and advice on how to act, and how to get others to join you in acting. Because the second important thing is to NOT go it alone! The cliché of strength in numbers holds true in particular for advocating to save language programs and departments.

In the menu at the left you will find links and contact details that could be of help, a checklist of things to do if your program is threatened with severe cuts or elimination, and a discussion forum for you to post information and updates.

Please email the members of the executive board of AAUSC if you would like to add further information or links to this site.

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