Campus: NORTHRIDGE -- May 21, 2007

CSUN Has Launched New Major in Languages and Cultures

California State University, Northridge has launched a new bachelor of arts degree program in languages and cultures that is designed in part to give students a leg up as they pursue careers in an ever-increasing globalized world.

The new major in languages and culture began last fall in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures with 14 students.

"The reality is that this is a multicultural world, and knowledge of another language and culture will give one a competitive edge in the workplace, whether it’s banking or the creative arts," said department chairman Brian J. Castronovo. "But studying another language and culture also enhances and enriches one’s own personal life as well.’

The new major has two components, one in language and the other in cross cultural studies. Among the languages the students can choose from are Armenian, French, German, Italian and Japanese.

Castronovo said his department worked closely with business professor Rafi Efrat to develop electives within the major that reflect the interests of business students. They include three courses that examine the business cultures in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

"The courses train students interested in international business and careers in that area to develop cross-cultural sensitivity and communication skills," he said. "Students learn to research and assess cultural issues and political and economic risks and opportunities in those areas, and to become more sensitive to interpersonal cues and the rules of behavior and other norms. They examine factors that affect business practices and consumer behavior…in order to develop business plans and long-term strategic goals that are culturally appropriate."

Castronovo explained that to be successful in international business, one must know much more than the fine points of economic theory and marketing. "Politics, social trends and particularly cultural differences can also directly affect business dealings and relationships, and for this reason the study of culture is more important than ever," he said.

For more information about the major, call the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures at (818) 677-3467.

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