A new summer program will give modern language students access to languages and cultures not commonly taught at UT Arlington.
The Critical Cultures Summer Institute is part of the university’s new Critical Languages and International Studies major, and is sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and the Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies.
This summer’s program focus is on Poland, including an introduction to the Polish language and culture. The upper-level courses are taught by visiting lecturer Dr. Maggie Harrison, who teaches full-time at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
Harrison said students will review the language and history of the country through culture, art, film and basic grammar.
“Students gain a general understanding of the country’s history [and] the reasons why certain events took the turn they did,” Harrison said. “There is a misconception of what Poland is or how it was formed. It’s a country that didn’t exist on maps for 123 years, yet it was able to maintain culture and language. Poland has a major place in the development of European history and culture.”
Harrison, who was born in Poland, said an understanding of a foreign culture enables students to better understand the language.
“When you teach language, you can’t divorce it from culture,” she said. “By learning about history and culture of another nation we come to appreciate and learn better about the country we live in.”
Harrison said she is excited about working with UT Arlington and the McDowell Center on the Critical Cultures Summer Institute project.
“In humanities we should offer opportunities to broaden students’ horizons,” she said. “How else are students going to have a chance to learn? It has to be encouraged. I think what the McDowell Center is doing is of great benefit to the university and students. “