Rachel Halverson, Chair of Modern Languages and Cultures
Language has the power to connect people, cultures and communities.
“If you do not speak the language, you cannot truly access a culture,” said Rachel Halverson, the new chair for the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “One thing that we have learned from our study of language is the tremendous access that fluency gives you to other cultures and communities.”
In her new role, Halverson wants to do more than help students learn languages to connect to other cultures and countries, she also wants to use the department to connect across the university.
Halverson, who received her master’s degree in German and doctorate in German literature from the University of Texas, hopes to extend the Modern Languages and Cultures Department across the campus, connecting with other disciplines to showcase the diverse nature and widespread uses of a modern languages and cultures degree.
“We need to be out connecting with people across the university in other disciplines,” she said. “We are helping our students develop a skill that allows them to do their work in multiple environments.”
While new to UI, Halverson isn’t new to the Palouse: She spent 26 years at Washington State University, and earned the rank of professor of German last spring. Halverson is excited for this new career opportunity and to be a part of the Vandal family.
“I feel that there is a great sense of community here,” she said. “I think this is an absolutely beautiful campus. I love the Hello Walk.”
Originally from North Dakota, Halverson began her career at Ohio State University. She easily found a home in the rolling hills of the Palouse and at the University of Idaho. She said she’s looking forward to taking an already well-established department to new heights in the coming years.
“This is an exciting place to be,” Halverson said. “It’s wonderful to have a faculty who are so committed to offering quality foreign language instruction to their students all while keeping an active research program.”
Halverson hopes that students in the Modern Languages and Cultures program become sensitive and effective speakers.
In the coming years, Halverson also hopes to increase awareness of the research being done within the Modern Language and Cultures Department.
“Our job over the coming years is to make people aware of the exciting research that is going on in the Modern Languages and Cultures Department.” Halverson, said. “It’s all about making language study be something that has meaning in the real world.”