Grant provides new language opportunities

Language professors at Cornell College are teaming up with professors at Coe College to rethink the language-learning experience, incorporating ways to meet the needs of refugees and immigrants in Linn County.

“The languages faculty at both Coe and Cornell realized that we need to get our students out of the classroom and apply what they have learned in real-world settings,” said Cornell’s Edwin R. and Mary E. Mason Professor of Languages John Gruber-Miller. 

Professor John Gruber-Miller
Professor John Gruber-Miller

This effort is possible with a new $50,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of a collaborative foreign language partnership, called “The Civic Humanities: A Foreign Collaboration between Coe and Cornell Colleges.”

“A Civic Humanities approach weaves our students into the local communities in which they live and keeps everyone honest as we work with community partners, listen to their needs, and ask our students to respond to real-world challenges,” Gruber-Miller said.

“We’ve already enjoyed working more closely with our terrific colleagues at Cornell, and our students will be energized by the real-world relevance of their language study,” said Coe Associate Professor of German John Chaimov.

Some programs under development include assisting area non-profits with Spanish and French-speaking immigrants and refugees, working with hospitals on language training, and offering language programs at area schools.

Other grant-funded activities will be introduced in the spring of 2018, when professors at Coe and Cornell will share curricular materials, creating new opportunities for students. The courses will include topics such as immigration, ethnic identity, and challenges with integration. A Summer Language and Society Institute will also be held during the summer of 2018, where students from both colleges will develop practical, applied language skills.

Many will be keeping an eye on these developments with excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead.

“This approach will create opportunities for both Coe and Cornell to become stronger and allow each institution to better serve the needs of our students and the surrounding communities,” said Coe Provost and Dean of the Faculty Paula O’Loughlin.  

Project leaders hope this program motivates students to achieve a deeper sensitivity to other cultures and inspires students to continue studying world languages.

“This planning grant is a wonderful opportunity for faculty at Coe and Cornell to collaborate on programs that will benefit students at both colleges,” said Joe Dieker, Cornell College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. “I anticipate that this grant will be the stimulus for future cooperative academic ventures and synergies between these two fine colleges.”

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.