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World Languages & Cultures | Strategic Plan
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Strategic Plan

Iowa State University

Department of World Languages and Cultures

Strategic Plan, 2017-2022


The Department of World Languages and Cultures is the central resource at Iowa State University for the teaching and study of world cultures both through their native languages and their lived practices. The department’s fundamental goal is to develop students through practical, global, and leadership experiences into the well-rounded citizens and informed critical thinkers needed in the 21st century. The department seeks to provide wide-ranging learning opportunities that will prepare students for lives and careers in a dynamic, global community.

The department is a central resource for and motivator of the university’s world-wide research, educational, and outreach mission. Its members apply methods from the humanities and the social and natural sciences to engage in intensive scholarly inquiry and disseminate the creation of knowledge through their teaching. Their scholarship and teaching are widely inter- and multi-disciplinary, bridging literary studies, linguistic inquiry, critical theory, cultural studies of texts and documents, cultural anthropology, classical and anthropological archaeology, and biological anthropology. In order to serve students and to facilitate scholarship, the department collaborates across the university to integrate its offerings with those of other disciplines, programs, departments, and colleges.

The department creates knowledge through nationally and internationally recognized original research, scholarship of teaching and learning, and curricular innovation. The department shares knowledge through excellence and innovation in learner-centered teaching and through outreach to individuals, institutions, and organizations in Iowa and beyond. The department applies and disseminates knowledge through its teaching mission and its advocacy of communication, cultural exchange and inquiry, and language education. The department embodies the university’s diversity of ideas, individuals, and cultures and seeks to enhance appreciation for diversity and inclusion through teaching, scholarship, and outreach.



The department is central to the university’s vision of developing culturally-informed global citizens and leaders. It will continue to prepare students with interests in all fields and disciplines for the challenges and opportunities of global, cultural, economic, social, and political change through critical exploration of the cultural practices of both the past and the present. The department’s scholarly activities explore and communicate these challenges and opportunities – and investigate their anthropological, historical, cultural, and linguistic determinants – at the highest level. The department is guided by the following values:



  • The department educates culturally-informed global citizens whose close engagement with global issues prepares them to be tomorrow’s leaders. It will communicate the value of its courses to the university, the private sector, and the people of Iowa. To that end, it maintains and develops innovative offerings in Anthropology, American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese Studies, Classical Studies, French, German, Italian, Russian Studies, and Spanish and strives to identify opportunities to support less-commonly-taught languages. It prioritzes instruction through a combination of face-to-face, hybrid, blended, and online learning strategies through the use of relevant instructional technologies.
  • The department engages in outreach efforts and collaborations with local, regional, and state partners including Iowa high schools and community colleges that are consonant with its educational mission and goals.
  • The department supports diversity and inclusion efforts as part of its mission to prepare globally-informed citizens.
  • The department maintains an active research agenda including, but not limited to, humanistic scholarship, linguistic inquiry, anthropological inquiry, cultural and visual studies, archaeology, as well as other areas of scholarly inquiry relevant to departmental responsibilities, vision, and goals.
  • The department recruits and retains diverse, nationally, and internationally recognized faculty whose teaching and research profiles are innovative and impactful and aligned with the expectations of an R1 university and the land grant mission of service to Iowa.
  • The department believes that experiential learning opportunities are essential to education and supports the development of innovative programs abroad and domestically.

In order to make the above values manifest, the department has set the following goals.

WLC Goal I: educate and prepare globally-informed citizens who are engaged with and open to world cultures and who understand the reciprocal impact of the U.S. and the world.

Alignment with LAS Goal: Educating all ISU Students & Mission for all Majors

  • Develop and support new synergies between departmental undergraduate and/or graduate programs, continue to strengthen the department’s leadership in Cross-Disciplinary Studies (CDS), and offer excellent interdisciplinary options for students.
  • Provide the means for students to integrate professional and academic goals with the systematic study of language and culture through its Languages and Cultures for Professions (LCP) program, and seek to foster stronger cross-displinary ties through its graduate program in Forensics.
  • Strengthen the graduate programs by a) creating an innovative graduate specialization, track, certificate, or program aligning the existing Anthropology program with other areas in WLC; b) increasing the participation of all WLC faculty in graduate committees in Anthropology and other graduate programs; c) strengthening the recruitment of well-prepared graduate students and increasing the number of graduate students studying in the program.
  • Continue to leverage the resources of the Language Studies Resource Center to promote innovative teaching and learning.


WLC Goal II: remain the campus leader in student research and experiential learning through study abroad, global internships, community engagement, field work, and undergraduate and graduate research opportunities.

Alignment with LAS Goal: Educating all ISU Students & Mission for all Majors

  • Strengthen existing programs in experiential learning (for example, field work, internships, service learning, study abroad) by increasing overall number of students and faculty participating in them
  • Develop new opportunities in experiential learning relevant to department strengths
  • Expand meaningful opportunities for graduate field research through existing faculty projects as well as targeted new research opportunities


WLC Goal III: create and disseminate knowledge by enhancing the quantity, quality, visibility, and impact of departmental research and its ability to meet societal needs.

Alignment with LAS Goal: Research

  • Disseminate knowledge through WLC Public Research Colloquia or Fora that feature department faculty research presentations as well as invited presenters on topics of wide interest to students and faculty
  • Broadly and strategically promote faculty research accomplishments through department print and media productions as well as College and University news outlets
  • Build a matching funds account for specific internal research grants to foster the creation and dissemination of research


WLC Goal IV: promote outreach and engagement strategies that align with teaching and research expertise and which position the department as a leader on campus for fostering a community of scholars and leaders.

Alignment with LAS Goal: Impact and Engagement

  • Enhance the department’s ability to engage with external audiences through substantive social media, print, and web campaigns
  • Create meaningful relationships with alumni, improving collaborations with WLC supporters, and cultivating financial support from these and other stakeholders
  • Strategically engage with state high school students and educators by attending and presenting at local and regional conferences such as the Iowa World Language Association (IWLA) and by hosting these groups and constituencies on campus

(Adopted by WLC faculty vote – 2 May 2017)