English+ is an initiative to help English students discover how their academic skills can translate to life beyond the academy. In particular, it addresses learning how to translate their skills to a professional environment, and learning how to narrate this process for a prospective employer.
In a wider sense, it refers to any effort asking students to apply the core skills we teach (including such things as communication, research, collaboration, and analytic thought) to an effort outside the classroom. Whether students are preparing for a career, for volunteerism and public advocacy, for community and church service, or for home life, English+ efforts aim to make evident the ways in which English skills benefit their endeavors.
English+ efforts are in keeping with (in fact, have been inspired by) our college Humanities+ program. As the Humanities+ site explains:
- In our globalized marketplace, many recruiters are turning directly to humanities majors for their foreign-language and intercultural expertise, their leadership abilities, communication skills, and above all their intellectual flexibility and creativity.
Our initiatives aspire to help students think nimbly about their roles both in their local communities and in the wider world. They aim to give students confidence in their ability to contribute to the workplace and beyond. To help our students in these efforts, we are integrating English + elements into our English major by:
- Requiring a sequence of two Academic and Career Preparation half-credit courses (ENG 198 and 398)
- Requiring an English+ experience in the form of either English 399R: Academic Internship (for 3 credits) or English 394R: Applied English
- Encouraging students to participate in extracurricular English+ activities, including (but not limited to) working for a student journal, holding a leadership position in a student organization, or completing an ORCA project.
These new requirements specifically address the professionalizing aspects of the English+ initiative. They aim to instill core competencies that help translate English skills to a professional environment, including:
- Presenting yourself professionally
- Managing projects
- Building cultural competence
- Cultivating successful professional relationships (networking)
- Working collaboratively
- Communicating effectively
- Harnessing and synthesizing evidence
English studies remain rooted in a liberal arts tradition of critical inquiry, scholarly research, communication, and creativity. This is our strength and our mainstay. English+ asks students to relate this humanistic tradition to their future vocations and avocations.