Q2S and the English Major

09 Quarters LeftCSUSB will convert from quarters to semesters in Fall 2020, and the conversion process is now well under way. Dave Carlson, our department chair, shared an overview of coming changes to the undergraduate English major. We’ll share news about the M.A. program in a future post!

For the past two years, the English Department has been working hard to transform our B.A. from its current quarter structure into a new semester one.  From the start of this process, we have kept the needs of our students as our central focus.

As most people reading this blog will know, the vast majority of our English majors grew up in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. A large percentage are first-generation college students, and many work at least part-time, with a significant number working full-time. Roughly 40% use our program as a springboard into a single subject teaching credential in language arts. A number of courses in our major also serve students in the Liberal Studies program seeking to enter a multiple-subject credential program.

It has been important for us, then, to construct a new semester program that continues to serve future teachers at multiple levels in the K-12 system. Many of our students also continue their education at the graduate level (with our own M.A. program being a common destination), so providing a broad foundation in English Studies has also been a priority. But it has also become clear to us in recent years that an increasing percentage of our students seek to use their English degrees to pursue careers outside of teaching.

Our final goal in the transformation process, then, has been to better position those not intending to go on to a teaching career to be able to recognize and articulate (to themselves and others) the skills they obtain by earning a degree in English Studies. Here is little teaser overview of how we have done so.

In its current form, the B.A. in English is a 73 quarter-unit major that consists of a substantial core (dominated by literature classes) and three concentrations: creative writing, linguistics, and literature. Students pursuing a single subject credential complete, in addition to their chosen concentration, our ETPP (English Teacher Preparation Program), which is a cluster of courses (some of which count as electives elsewhere in the major) that satisfy remaining CTCC requirements not automatically addressed elsewhere in a student’s course of study.

The transformed BA in English will be a 48 semester-unit major (where students will also have to opportunity to “double-dip” in satisfying GE C2, thus freeing up additional general electives). A new core has been designed expressly as a broad introduction to English Studies as a field, taking advantage of our department’s unique strengths: we are the only English department in the CSU system, and one of a handful nationwide, that includes faculty in literature, linguistics, creative writing, and rhetoric/writing studies.

Key points:

  • We have significantly redesigned the creative writing concentration, developing a structure that allows students to pursue multi-modal and multi-genre work across multiple platforms (digital and conventional).
  • We have created a new concentration in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, which expands on the structure we currently use in our Certificate in Public and Professional Writing.  Here again, we have created more space for multi-modal writing, while also placing new and additional emphasis on community-based writing, writing in the public sphere, and theoretical grounding in rhetoric and literacy studies.
  • Our linguistics and literature concentrations have been streamlined (largely through the elimination of some pre-requisite and sequencing issues that created barriers to student progress) and updated.
  • We have created a new individualized concentration where students, under the direction of a faculty advisor and with approval of faculty committee, can create their own course of study to meet any career goals not clearly addressed by our other concentrations.
  • Finally, in all our concentrations we are seeking to emphasize and encourage students to enroll in “High Impact Practice” classes, some of which we currently offer and some of which are new. We are particularly encouraging students to incorporate study abroad, an internship, an English Practicum (a project-based learning class), or an Honors/Research project into their program of study.

This new curriculum is currently working its way through the campus’ approval process-and hopefully will sail through without any hitches.  We are now looking forward to being able to turn our focus to preparing to teach in this new structure.  There will by many opportunities for exciting and innovative classes.  We can’t wait to teach them!

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