May 5, 2010

Swedish, Dutch Will be Offered for Fall 2010 Semester

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Cornell announced recently that the Dutch and Swedish programs will continue next academic year.  While the Dutch program is set to be continued for the entirety of next year, the future of the Swedish department is still unclear beyond the fall semester due to issues in funding.

Though the German Studies Department opted to cut much of the funding from the two departments, faculty and administrators in the programs were able to seek independent funding to maintain the majority of their course offerings.

The majority of the Dutch program’s funding has come from the Dutch Language Union, according to Sydney Van Morgan, associate director of the Cornell Institute for European Studies, who has played an active role in working to prevent the German Studies Department from cutting the programs entirely. Chrissy Hosea, a lecturer for the Dutch program, added that it is “likely” that they will be able to continue beyond next year, depending on if they can secure an additional grant.

Despite generous donations, the Swedish program has only received enough funding to offer introductory and intermediate level courses as well as an independent study option in the fall.

While they have received most of their funding from the Swedish Institute, who has offered enough money to support two classes in addition to the independent study option, they are still seeking support from other external sources.

The Swedish program is awaiting news on additional funding from the Department of Education, which, if received, would allow them to continue the full program beyond the fall.

“We’ve applied for another grant that would fund classes for four years,” Van Morgan said.

Those connected to the programs are delighted that they will return in fall of 2010.

“I’m really happy that the program will be continued,” Hosea said.

Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm, lecturer for Swedish classes, who will not be returning to campus next semester, discussed the interconnectedness of every field on campus.

“It’s important to know that the program services a lot of constituents on campus,” Alm said, citing programs such as European studies, medieval studies, and Cornell’s Fiske Icelandic Collection that incorporate the Swedish language in different manners. She stressed the importance of Swedish at a time when countries like Sweden are on the cutting edge in areas, such as bio-medicine and green technology.

Prof. Oren Falk, history and medieval studies, agreed.

“There is an idea that you can eliminate small niche programs without affecting larger programs,” Falk said. “This idea is entirely false,”

Falk, who teaches mainly graduate students, added that “it is impossible to study history without programs like these, at least on the graduate level.”

Outside of their connection to other fields of study, Swedish and Dutch have personal value to their students.

“I have not been inspired by any subject as much as I have been by Swedish,” said Alden Coots ’11. “The fact that the program has a chance to continue is something that I am incredibly enthused about.”

Hosea explained that the small class sizes and individual attention are an added benefit of the Swedish and Dutch programs.

“When you don’t have immense class sizes, we can be available to students,” Hosea said.

Van Morgan attributed the programs’ survival to cross-campus support from students and faculty alike.

Sara Larsson grad, Scandinavian Club president, said that her group has been working the entire year to save the programs.

“We put out a petition […] with the Dutch Club. We called it SOSD –– Save Our Swedish and Dutch,” Larsson explained.

The students stood on the Arts Quad last semester to promote awareness and gather signatures. They also wrote e-mails to deans asking them to keep the departments on campus.

Though the future of Swedish classes beyond first semester remains ambiguous, the Scandinavian Club plans to continue sponsoring Scandanavian-related activities. Larsson noted that having the program in the fall will make it “much easier” to continue the club.  Scandinavian Club currently has 135 members.

Lena Trancik, former Swedish senior lecturer, started at the University in 1985, when there was just one Swedish course. After teaching for 24 years, she said that the program has endured its fair share of difficulty, but has always persevered somehow.

“This has happened before. With the support of students, we have survived,” Trancik said.

Original Author: Anna-Lisa Castle