Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Kathy’s News from the CLAC (Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum) Consortium Conference

I attended the CLAC (Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum) Consortium Conference on the beautiful campus of Drake University in Des Moines, where I presented on “The Role of Multilingualism in Global Citizenship:  The Many Languages One World (MLOW) Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum.”

Framed by the conference theme of “developing responsible global citizenship through CLAC,” all of the sessions and presenters were wonderful, each examining the role of cultures and languages across the curriculum in fostering and encouraging global citizenship from different disciplinary perspectives and through different lenses.

The welcome remarks set the tone for the day, and I found the plenary on the well-known “Drake Experiment” in foreign language education interesting and insightful.  I was especially happy to hear the many references to the MLA report, Foreign Languages and Higher Education:  New Structures for a Changed World, which was one of cornerstones of my doctoral research on foreign language as a global competency.  The timing of the conference actually coincided with the inaugural weekend for one of the report’s authors, a member of my doctoral committee, as President of Manhattanville, one of the New York City area’s private colleges.

After my presentation in the first session on “Intercultural Understanding and CLAC,” I attended “Engaging Study Abroad through CLAC,” which included a presentation by a fellow AATF Commission Chair, and “Unleashing Interdisciplinarity at a Small Liberal Arts College:  Strategies for Applying Student Language Skills and Cultural Knowledge to Real World Situations,” and the keynote address in the evening.

I wish I could have attended all the concurrent sessions, but of course, it was necessary to choose.

Spending the day in such a beautiful venue listening to the creative language and culture initiatives  at so many institutions was truly inspirational.

Many thanks to the CLAC Consortium and to our hosts at Drake University for organizing the conference, and special thanks to the convener of my panel session, from Baldwin Wallace University.

Languages do matter!


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