WLC’s History

A tale as old as time…

… or at least as old as the University.

World Languages have been taught on Iowa States campus since its establishment (as Iowa Agricultural College) in 1868. Originally, Latin and French were the only two languages taught on campus with German fluctuating in and out of ISU’s curriculum over the first decade or so. In 1899, The Department of Modern Languages was created.

Since then, our department has had a few different names, our current name, World Languages and Cultures, was adopted in 2005. We have taught a variety of languages and become the home to 19 different disciplines since our inception. We now offer language coursework in American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. We also cover cultural education in the forms of American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Classical Studies, International Studies, U.S. Latino/a Studies, and World Film Studies. On top of that, we help educate future teachers with our Educator Preparation Program.

In 2003, we established our Languages and Cultures for Professions (LCP) program. This addition has built our ties with the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, and Engineering, and we see our students moving into industries seamlessly, thanks to what they’ve learned. LCP grows every year, and it’s the broadest program of its kind in the entire U.S.