South Dakota State University’s School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies officially opened its doors July 1. The South Dakota Board of Regents approved it earlier this year.
The School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies is South Dakota State’s ninth overall school and seventh in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Studies. In that college, the School of Design started in 2015, the School of Performing Arts in 2017, the School of Communication and Journalism in 2018, the Ness School of Management and Economics and the School of American and Global Studies in 2019 and the School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies in 2021. SDSU’s other schools are in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
The School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies offers undergraduate majors in English, including specializations in English education and writing, and interdisciplinary studies, along with minors in English, film studies, professional writing and women, gender and sexuality studies. In addition, the school also offers master’s degrees in English (M.A.) and in interdisciplinary studies (M.S.).
More broadly, the school fulfills SDSU’s land-grant mission through its dedication to teaching and teacher education, to research, scholarly and creative activity, and to numerous forms of local, state and regional/national outreach. This outreach includes partnering with the university’s writing center, collaborating with the South Dakota Humanities Council for its annual South Dakota Festival of Books, publishing the annual “Oakwood” literary magazine, facilitating the annual Jerome Norgren and Paul Witherington writing contests for South Dakota middle and high school students and housing the premier academic journal, “Victorian Periodicals Review.”
“With the creation of the School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences has completed an ambitious and innovative restructuring that fosters and supports interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration in the classroom and in faculty research, scholarship and creative activity,” said Lynn Sargeant, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “For faculty and students in English and interdisciplinary studies, the new school structure will create greater visibility for their work both on campus and in the community.”
Similar to other schools at South Dakota State, the School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies allows for multidisciplinary programming and improved immersive experiences. Jason McEntee ’94/M.A. ’98, who has served as the head of the Department of English since 2012, has been named the school’s founding director. He served as the head of the Department of English and Interdisciplinary Studies for the 2021-22 academic year.
“I am honored to lead our new school. We will continue to deliver our cutting-edge programs in English, including our flagship English education bachelor’s degree and our online M.A. in English—the only online English graduate degree in our state,” McEntee said. “Bringing the interdisciplinary studies undergraduate and graduate programs into an academic unit structure has already proven successful. In particular, by giving these degrees greater visibility, we have seen enrollments rise—our undergraduate majors have tripled in one year’s time.“