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BU to offer nation’s first PhD in translation studies

Binghamton University has received final approval from the state Department of Education to offer a PhD in translation studies, the first academic program of its nature in the nation.

"Our campus is widely regarded as a model for its international education activities, and to have the nation’s first PhD program in translation enhances our role as a leader in internationalization," said President Lois B. DeFleur. "This academic program will also help us attract and retain outstanding faculty and graduate students, bringing recognition to TRIP (Translation Research and Instruction Program), to Harpur College and the entire University."

The program, which was approved by the Faculty Senate last November and earlier this semester by SUNY, is the offspring of a graduate certificate program established in 1971 by Marilyn Gaddis Rose, distinguished service professor. In 1974, she also started the Translation Referral Service, a nonprofit organization that connects businesses and publishers with foreign language interpreters.

Last October, evaluators from several universities were on campus to review TRIP, interview students and faculty about the existing program and evaluate the holdings pertaining to translation studies in the library – finding the collection very well endowed because of the 33-year TRIP legacy. They sent their feedback and recommendations to Nancy Stamp, dean of the Graduate School.

BU currently offers a translation curriculum for students pursuing the MA in comparative literature, romance languages, social sciences (MASS) and education (MAT). The University also offers a translation certificate to master’s and PhD students from all disciplines who have taken the necessary courses and are able to pass a translation exam. Undergraduate students who are adequately proficient in a foreign language may also be accepted into TRIP’s translation workshops.

Rosemary Arrojo, professor of comparative literature and director of TRIP, said the new PhD program integrates several disciplines in order for students to tailor their own academic and career interests. Students can focus on linguistics, cultural studies, literary criticism, cognitive systems including computer science and engineering, and national literary traditions.

The doctoral program will be interdisciplinary; students will be able to take courses in translation studies and other relevant subjects.

H. Stephen Straight, vice provost for undergraduate education, said that it is particularly noteworthy that the program approaches the study of translation from both non-literary and literary directions.

"This breadth naturally reflects the longstanding philosophy of TRIP, but the positive reaction to the program demonstrates the growing recognition of the all-encompassing scope of language as both a vehicle and an instrument of human thought and experience," said Straight, a professor of anthropology and linguistics, associate director of TRIP and founding director of the Languages Across the Curriculum program.

Gaddis Rose said that from the beginning, the organizers of TRIP wanted to build on the program’s strengths that built its reputation. "We planned a doctoral curriculum which focuses on the disciplines from which translation studies derives: anthropology, comparative literature, natural languages, philosophy with strong contributions from the fine arts, humanities and social sciences," she said.

Students can complete the PhD in 4 years. For more information, visit
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Last Updated: 10/14/08