Liberal Arts says adios and au revoir to foreign language requirement

Andrew Cummings | multimedia editor. Under the new Bridges curriculum , students in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts will no longer be required to take foreign language classes or demonstrate any proficiency in a foreign language.

Kellen Stepler | features editor

Oct. 28, 2021

The McAnulty College of Liberal Arts officially announced Monday in an email to their students that effective Jan. 1, 2022, requirements for liberal arts graduates “will no longer include foreign language proficiency.”

The announcement came on the first day of scheduling for the spring 2022 semester, where early registrants – such as students who are involved in athletics or the Honors College, for example – were eligible to register for courses. The Duke previously reported that the requirement had been removed under the “Bridges” curriculum.

Previously under the school’s “college core,” liberal arts students needed to take up to the 202 level of a foreign language. Because course registration opened this week, the message was sent to “clarify the precise date on which the change to the language requirement would be effective,” said Gabe Welsch, a university spokesperson.

“The Jan. 1, 2022, effective date was chosen in order to support students’ ability to make informed decisions during registration for the spring semester,” Welsch said.

He said that under Bridges, faculty can propose new or adjusted courses.

“In fact, a number of foreign language courses were recently approved to count toward Bridges competencies,” Welsch said.

Some majors within the college can still require language proficenecy, Welsch said, but it is not yet clear which ones will. 

“If you want to understand countries, knowledge of a language is helpful,” said Mark Frisch, chair of the Modern Languages department. “We have to make that case to our students to keep them studying languages.”

Frisch said the department will try to exercise more study abroad experiences, encourage freshmen to get involved in taking languages and create literature-type courses within the department.

Senior Alyson Huth created an online petition and sent emails to upper-level administration earlier this month to try to save the requirement. She said she disagreed with the announcement made Monday.

“The fact that Duquesne is overlooking its own emphasis on global engagement is appalling,” Huth said. “I firmly believe that because of the snowball effect and the eventual canceling of classes and programs, getting rid of this requirement is a huge mistake for the longevity and the value of the university.”