The Department of English is charged with responsibility for a number of complex, interrelated, and essential missions involving students, faculty, and curricula. In the broadest terms, we are centrally concerned with teaching undergraduates throughout the Kent State University system to read critically and to write effectively, and charged with the training of future teachers in those areas at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. The skills in which we train students through various courses in writing and literature, as one should expect, encompass the capacities to comprehend, absorb, retain, and abstract information, but far more than those as well. Our courses, individually and in focused degree programs, foster crucial cognitive capacities, affective abilities, and personal qualities that are the prerequisites for personal fulfillment, career success, and responsible service in a culturally diverse, rapidly changing, and increasingly global society. Among these are the appreciation of a variety of complex and conflicting perspectives, tolerance of differing outlooks and experiences, and the ability to analyze and to synthesize disparate viewpoints and elements into a coherent and meaningful whole. In other words, as a discipline at the heart of the traditional liberal arts core, we do not emphasize only the learning of a discrete body of information so much as we transmit skills that prepare students for lifelong learning and full participation in a democratic society.
Conceived more specifically, our mission is:
- To instruct all undergraduate students in written communication in required first-year classes and in advanced writing electives;
- To instruct undergraduates in critical thinking and interpretive reading, and to introduce them to research writing in English 21011 and to literary traditions of different cultures and a variety of interpretive strategies in Kent Core classes, key components of the General Education Program;
- To maintain the ESL Center and provide ESL instruction through University classes, and through institutes and workshops;
- To offer training in the discipline to students preparing to teach at primary and secondary levels;
- To instruct undergraduates in the major, as general career preparation in the liberal arts, pre-professional training for law, medicine, business and fields such as library and information science, education, and publishing and as a foundation for further study in English;
- To offer graduate instruction in several programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. in English, in Comparative Literature, in TESL, and in Rhetoric and Composition, training graduates to enter college-level teaching and related fields; and
- To engage in and disseminate research, scholarship, and creative work in our discipline.
It is also important to stress that these missions are inextricably bound together in various ways. For example, faculty who teach writing at the graduate level train graduate students who then, in turn, teach writing to undergraduates. In this way, resources that may appear to support one component of our mission activity provide the Department and the University with multiple benefits. It would be practically impossible as well as theoretically unjustifiable to attempt to reduce resources in one mission area without adversely affecting our overall efforts.
Other special features of the Department include:
- Responsibility for the University Writing Program and other central components of the Kent Core;
- Support of and participation in a number of interdisciplinary programs and units, including the Institute for Applied Linguistics, the Institute for Bibliography and Editing, the Department of Pan-African Studies, the Office of Undergraduate Studies; the Arts and Sciences Minors in Women’s Studies, American Studies, AMRS, LGTBS , Religion Studies, and Jewish Studies; and the Liberal Studies M.A.
- Support for a variety of undergraduate creative writing programs, in and out of the classroom;
- Active involvement in international exchange programs;
- Extensive faculty participation in the Honors College;
- A large faculty and curricular presence throughout the Regional Campus system;
- Extensive contact with secondary schools;
- Active involvement in the cultural life of the University through the co-sponsorship of the Wick Poetry Readings and visits by scholars and writers; and
- Faculty involvement in the editing of various scholarship journals, service on the editorial boards of university presses, and the editing of scholarly book series.