The Department of World Languages is proposing a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Studies. The B.A. in French studies emphasizes the acquisition of proficiency in the French language. Due to the program’s highly interdisciplinary nature, students will also develop a critical knowledge of French and Francophone literature, history, culture, and politics, including an understanding of France’s significant place in the larger perspective of Europe. Since the program draws on offerings from different departments, no new faculty resources are needed for implementation.
Several reasons underscore the need to establish a program in French Studies at the University of North Florida. First, French is the second most studied foreign language in the United States, trailing only Spanish in popularity. According to the latest Modern Language Association survey on Foreign Language Enrollment in United States Institutions of Higher Education (Fall 2002), 202,014 college and university students enrolled in French classes. French outdistances by far languages such as German (100,112), Italian (63,866), Japanese (60,849), Chinese (34,153), Russian (23,916) and Arabic (10,596).
Second, foreign language departments, by tradition and student demand, are anchored of necessity by B.A. programs in French and Spanish. In the state of Florida, for instance, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, Florida State University, Florida A & M University, and Florida International University all offer B.A. degrees in French and Spanish.
Third, the University of North Florida is a comprehensive university whose mission encompasses, among other goals, fostering “critical thinking, thoughtful decision-making, and effective communication,” along with a commitment to engendering “a global perspective” on students who will be “able to adapt to the changing global environment.” A strong language department that offers at the very least B.A.’s in French and Spanish complements those praiseworthy objectives.