International Dimensions of Academic Programs

To varying degrees, the twelve schools of the University of Pennsylvania incorporate international content into their academic offerings at the course, program, and departmental levels. Many schools have responded to the 1990 planning process with the establishment of committees charged with exploring ways of further internationalizing their curricula. While some of this work is still ongoing, progress toward enriching the international content of courses and programs is already apparent, particularly at the undergraduate level.

Foreign Language Study

Study of a foreign language is fundamental to the introduction of an international perspective into the undergraduate curriculum, as well as to the conduct of research in many disciplines. Three of the four undergraduate schools at Penn have a foreign language requirement. At the School of Arts and Sciences, these requirements have been in place for over forty years; the Wharton School and the School of Nursing have recently instituted language requirements for their undergraduates. There is also some movement toward inclusion of language study in the School of Engineering and Applied Science curricula, with the Department of Computer and Information Science now requiring foreign language competency for its majors.

The School of Arts and Sciences is responsible for all foreign language teaching at the University. In recent years, SAS has made impressive strides in improving both the quality and variety of its language instruction. Its proficiency-based model of language instruction and evaluation has reinvigorated the language program, raising the morale and competencies of both language teachers and students. Moreover, as patterns of choice among undergraduates have shifted, SAS has proven itself adaptable.

Language needs not met by departments of the School of Arts and Sciences are served by the Penn Language Center, an administrative unit of the College of General Studies that began its first semester of offerings in the fall of 1989. The Center's programs are designed to raise to an intermediate level the language competence of a student with no prior knowledge. The flexibility inherent in the Center's offerings also enables it to meet targeted needs, such as instruction in languages for business purposes. In addition, the Center is oriented toward expanding Penn's language curriculum, enriching the resources available for research in applied linguistics, and enhancing opportunities for research by faculty and students.

Area Studies Programs

Penn's area studies programs are among the University's foremost tools for promoting a deeper understanding of international issues and cultures. Each of these programs, which are based within the School of Arts and Sciences, provides formal and informal educational opportunities for students to learn the languages and develop an understanding of the economic, political, cultural, and social characteristics of the region under study. Full descriptions of the activities of these programs are included in the March 24, 1992 Almanac reprint of the International Programs Factbook discussion of "Area Studies at the University of Pennsylvania." The programs are:

To index for Penn's International Dimensions.


January 12, 1993
Volume 39 Number 17

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