LINK:  University of Chicago Magazine
About the Magazine | Advertising | Archives | Contact
LINK:  April 2006LINK:  featuresLINK:  chicago journalLINK:  investigationsLINK:  peer reviewLINK:  in every issue

:: By Amy M. Braverman

:: Graphic by Allen Carroll

link:  e-mail this to a friend

Chicago Journal ::


Hyde Park’s own Babylon

Language study has gone way up at Chicago, so the College and the Humanities Division have planned a Center for the Study of Languages, to open in Cobb Hall next year. Language-course enrollments (which may include single students taking multiple courses a year) in the 49-plus languages offered rose by almost 700 from 2001–02 to the next year—and have stayed well above the 4,800 mark ever since. The increase outpaced the College’s population surge from 4,064 in 01–02 to 4,515 in 04–05.

The biggest enrollment jumps include Arabic (159 to 337), Chinese (160 to 288), Japanese (190 to 255), Russian (216 to 278), and even Ancient Greek (90 to 213) and Latin (172 to 232). One might assume Arabic enrollment grew because of post-9/11 interest, but “I haven’t seen a trend between world events and language study,” says Steven Clancy, the center’s academic director. In the 1990s, he says, when the Soviet Union fell and Western students could travel there freely, Russian numbers declined. Yet the rise in Chinese and Japanese, he admits, includes many economics students, reflecting current trends. Ancient Greek and Latin, meanwhile, are “kind of unusual. That’s a U of C thing.”

graphic:  fig1