How does the program serve the state and region in ways beyond producing graduates?
The English and Interdisciplinary Studies department has a strong presence in the Brookings community and in the region, serves the state in many ways. Faculty members are heavily involved in the community, as well as community and regional professional organizations, serving wherever needed. The department supports community and state-wide events with speaking and teaching engagements through service learning, by educating students to become world citizens, and through campus and/or community and/or state/regional events such the annual Consider the Century conference, the Great Plains Writers’ Conference, and the Festival of Cultures (all at SDSU).
- Members of the department are invited to speak at a number of local events, presenting literary, creative, and cultural topics to participants. For example, our creative writing faculty regularly give readings on campus and at community spaces such as the public library or Cottonwood Coffee. Other faculty members have contributed their expertise to public library series on specific authors, such as Louisa May Alcott. Other faculty members have led specific, adult-education-oriented series such as the Literature and Medicine series at the Sioux Falls VA Hospital (currently in its third year).
- Service Learning is another aspect from which the community benefits. Several faculty members include service learning projects (such as with Dakota Rural Action or the Flandreau Indian School) in their course framework. The capstone course in Peace and Conflict Studies requires a significant service learning project of its students.
- Students who take classes in the department are exposed, through literature and film, to new cultures and different customs. Their horizons are broadened and they truly become world citizens by gaining a better understanding of the world. In the process, they learn to understand their own culture and customs better and they become more tolerant toward the foreign and different. Further, we have reached an agreement to pilot a dual-credit course with the Brookings High School (Fall 2012). The course we will offer is ENGL 101.
- In order to showcase and promote different national and international world views, the department plays a major role in several cultural events on campus, such as the Consider the Century Conference, the Harding Distinguished Lecture Series, the Great Plains Writers Conference, and Festival of Cultures (open to local students and the general public).
In short, through a variety of service activities, the Department of English and Interdisciplinary Studies maintains productive relationships with the community and the state in several ways: by maintaining educational relationships with local and regional schools and institutions, preparing students for a more globalized future, and by engaging in events that allow students and the general public to find enjoyment in cultural activity.
Are there significant PreK-12 linkages? Why does the program have these linkages? What are the direct benefits of these linkages?
The department maintains productive relationships with local and regional schools through:
- majors who student teach in local classrooms;
- instruction for future teachers on the latest teaching methods;
- the implementation of a dual-credit class (ENGL 101) at the Brookings High School; and
- the Jerome Norgren and the Paul Witherington writing contests.
- Our department regularly sees its English Education majors placed for student teaching in the local middle and high school, including those schools in communities within close proximity to Brookings. Many of our graduates, including many of our graduate students, remain in the region to pursue teaching careers. These relationships allow for pedagogical exchanges of ideas between the schools’ faculty, our faculty, and our graduates. Our students receive extensive, up-to-date training in the teaching of English via our required Methods of Teaching English class.
- The cooperation between the Department of English and Interdisciplinary Studies and the Brookings High School took another step this last fall (2011) as we are entering into a partnership to offer a dual-credit course at the high school. One of our graduate students, who teaches English at the high school, will be the instructor of record, serving as an adjunct faculty member teaching ENGL 101. Mr. Ganci will work in conjunction with our Coordinator of Composition, Dr. Michael Keller, to ensure that the students receive a college-level class during their senior year of high school. The program will begin in the fall 2012 semester, and if successful, we will pursue a dual-credit course in literature.
- The creative writing faculty facilitate the Jerome Norgren Poetry Contest and the Paul Witherington Creative Writing Contest, open to middle and high school students in South Dakota.
Students majoring in English Education have worked, and continue to work, closely with SDSU professors to discuss pedagogical and curricula issues. This is a great opportunity for SDSU students to use their skill sets in a practical way in their respective careers and communities.
Are there formal and/or informal linkages with external communities, groups or organizations? Why does the program have these linkages? What are the direct benefits of these linkages?
The department’s faculty members are involved in several linkages with external communities, and each of these linkages see as its direct result a strong working relationship with peoples and organizations beyond the borders of SDSU. Some of these linkages include:
- Great Plains Writers Conference
- Harding Distinguished Lecture Series
- Consider the Century Conference
- Literature and Medicine Series
- SDHC Speakers’ Bureau
- Oak Lake Writers’ Retreat
- Jerome Norgren and Paul Witherington writing contests
Are these linkages worth continuing?
The department considers all the relationships and linkages mentioned above beneficial to the community, the state, and SDSU. The Department of English and Interdisciplinary Studies has an important presence in the community and in the state of South Dakota. Because of its involvement, the department has an excellent reputation among the state’s teachers, which in turn aids in recruiting. Though English is taught at other Regental South Dakota institutions, the Department of English and Interdisciplinary Studies at SDSU is a leader in offering continuing education for teachers, cooperating with teachers and other organizations, and leading the way in delivering current and often innovative lessons, in raising student performance, and in preparing graduates for life after college. However, one drawback to our increased demand for research is that it may become necessary to scale back the number of activities for the community and create and prioritize a more research-oriented agenda.