Bringing English Into the Digital Age

Manchester delivers new degree options to help meet workforce needs

Monday, March 27, 2017
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Students work on the latest issue of The Manchester Independent

Students work on the latest issue of The Manchester Independent, an on-campus digital newspaper that those in the literary arts and studies program can contribute to.

The University of New Hampshire at Manchester will launch three new Bachelor of Arts degree options in the fall 2017 semester: professional and technical communications, digital language arts and literary studies.

The majors are part of the literary arts and studies program at Manchester, and they've been designed to focus squarely on the skills employers most want from graduates. Mike Decelle, dean of UNH Manchester, says the program was developed in response to large-scale polls of employers that identified the five most in-demand skills: critical thinking, creative thinking, written communication, oral communication and the ability to collaborate as part of a team.

“The literary arts and studies program is built upon what employers consider most crucial to success in the job market,” Decelle says. “These degree options are uniquely designed to prepare students with the marketable skills that are in high demand in a broad array of professional fields, both in our region and nationwide.”

"UNH Manchester is redefining traditional English education."

Students in the program choose one of three specialized bachelor’s degree options: digital language arts, literary studies or professional and technical communications. Each option emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, connecting themes and concepts across different fields of study. Nancy Targett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNH, says this interdisciplinarity is key to engaging students academically as well as preparing them for success after graduation.

“By creating a program that transcends both academic and professional boundaries, UNH Manchester is redefining traditional English education,” Targett says. “Literary arts and studies is interdisciplinary by design, and it will provide students with clearer pathways to employment in multiple sectors.”

A focal point of the program is experiential learning, with an internship requirement that allows students to gain applied skills, content knowledge and professional experience. Students also have the opportunity to contribute to one of two campus-based publications: The Manchester Independent, a digital newspaper covering the Greater Manchester area, and Best American Experimental Writing, an annual anthology of innovative literary art. Seth Abramson, assistant professor and writing specialist, says it's experiences like these that set the program apart from traditional English and communications programs.

"I can't think of many undergraduate programs in which a student can graduate having worked for a city newspaper or a nationally recognized literary anthology; interned in a diverse range of civic, creative and corporate environments; and studied in such a wide variety of real-world practice areas,” Abramson says. “When you build a program from the ground up, focusing on skill development rather than narrow bands of knowledge, you're free to create some extraordinary classroom experiences.”

For more information about literary arts and studies and its degree options, visit manchester.unh.edu/literaryarts or call UNH Manchester’s admissions office at 603-641-4150. The literary arts and studies options are not available on the Common Application for the 2017-18 academic year. Students may apply as “English" or "undeclared,” then call the admissions office at 603-641-4150 to declare a major in digital language arts, literary studies or professional and technical sommunications.

Photographer: 
David Vogt | freelance photographer