Diversity Statement of the Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages and Literatures
Diversity is necessary for a vibrant intellectual community that excels in its scholarly and teaching commitments. Inclusiveness among students, staff, and faculty enhances our overall creativity, intellectual pursuit and accomplishments, and contributes meaningfully to the training of citizens in a democratic society. The qualities that people from different backgrounds bring to institutions of higher education help us think more complexly, consider varied perspectives, create new approaches, and achieve excellence as community members and leaders in an ever-changing world.
The Department of German and Slavic Languages seeks to increase understanding and conversation among students, staff, and faculty in order to encourage a safe and open environment conducive to sharing differences in sexual identity, gender, religion, ethnicity, race, physical abilities, sexual orientations, political affiliations, economic background, age, veteran experience, and immigration statuses. To that end, the Department strives to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment, promoting access, opportunity, equity, and justice for all. Individuals from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups, international applicants, immigrants and permanent residents constitute a vital part of our departmental community. In striving to maintain a nurturing and collegial climate, the Department promptly addresses all forms of harassment.
About Our Discipline
Our Department specializes in teaching and researching the languages, cultures, literatures, and histories (including language histories) of Central and Eastern Europe. The professional associations to which our faculty belong and that provide parameters for our teaching and research include: The American Association of Teachers of German, the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, the German Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
Our primary point of contact with undergraduate students consists of basic and intermediate language classes in German, Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish. We give students in these courses the linguistic and cultural competence to help them succeed in the global economy, and we develop their ability to interact respectfully with others both here in the U.S. and around the world. In a 2013 survey conducted by the Hart Research Association, 55% of 318 employers who responded ranked knowledge of global cultures, histories, values, religions and social systems as an important quality for their employees to have. Study after study has shown the positive mental effects of acquiring a second language, and that knowledge of a foreign language and culture can be a significant advantage in seeking employment.
Millions of Americans are directly descended from Germans, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and others of Central and Eastern Europe who were forced to flee their native lands for political, religious, or economic reasons, beginning in the eighteenth century and continuing to the present day. The contributions of these immigrants to this country have been legion, from Carl Schurz to Albert Einstein to Vladimir Nabokov to Helen and Alex Woskob. Our departmental courses in German culture, Russian culture, Ukrainian culture, Pennsylvania Germans, comparative Nazism and Stalinism, and contemporary Germany acquaint students with the complex events of European and world history that led to these migrations and to the shaping of contemporary societies and current geopolitics.