June 8, 2022

Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, and Friends of Rutgers Humanities,

In 2022-2023, we will be asking Rutgers students to tell us and their peers, in one or more of the many languages they speak, and in translation: 

¿Por qué aprendo otras lenguas? 
हम भाषाऐं क्यों सीखते हैं? 
لماذا اتعَلْم اللُغات؟
Why Do I Learn Languages? 
왜 외국어를 배우기로 했을까요?
Для чего я изучаю языки?
Dlaczego uczȩ siȩ jȩzyków?
Чому я вивчаю мови?

לָמָּה אֲנִי לוֹמֵד שָׂפוֹת?

Kung bakit magandang mag-aral ng iba't-ibang wika? 
Poukisa m aprann lang?

What do they value about learning and knowing world languages?

Why are future computer scientists, economists, museum curators, teachers, court interpreters, and astronomers learning world languages?  

Why and how are languages important to the health professions, political activism, business, engineering, music, and pharmacology?  What are the careers, life experiences, and places open to students who can speak additional languages?  What do language learners know, and how does language learning contribute to our ways of thinking, our worldview, our attitude towards others, our career growth, and our self-awareness?

Across the Humanities and beyond, we will be launching a year of interdisciplinary courses; co-curricular programming; community outreach; programming in the visual and performance arts; food and culture festivals; and poster competitions to engage students, faculty, staff, and university leaders in thinking, feeling, and acting through languages. In an unprecedented 2020 survey on multilingualism at Rutgers, led by the Research Advisory Council of the Language Engagement Project, 68 percent of student respondents said they speak a language in addition to English at home.  We hope to explain why honoring and engaging the many languages spoken and used in our community is crucial to the university’s teaching and research missions and to supporting inclusive excellence, beloved community, and global impact.  We hope to advance a culture of languages at Rutgers.

The Year of Languages builds on the several years of initiatives, supported by three Rutgers schools (SAS, SCI, and SEBS) and by a major grant from the Chancellor’s Strategic Initiatives Fund (SIF), which allowed us to launch the Language Engagement Project and the Rutgers English Language Institute.  Over the past few years, we built out research, teaching, and community engagement programs, including a major lecture series featuring advanced scholarship and pedagogy, language modules and language courses across the disciplines, new cross-cultural and cross-linguistic programming for multilingual English language learners, a public website mapping the linguistic landscape of New Jersey (to come), and a podcast (to come).  

At the end of this summer, we will launch the Year of Languages formally.  With your help, we will be expanding curricular and co-curricular activities that encourage thinking about the role of languages across the disciplines, the professions, and our beloved community. 

More information will be coming soon.  To get involved, or with any questions about courses or events, please write to Preetha Mani, 2022-2023 Humanities Dean’s Office Faculty Fellow for the Year of Languages, at .


Rebecca Walkowitz

Dean of Humanities

Distinguished Professor