The degree program in which I participated is among the most unique in the country. The focus of my degree does not fall within the two selected areas of concentration, but rather resides in the process of general integration of knowledge. According to the BIS website:
Arizona State’s BIS program provides students the intellectual tools needed to integrate their concentration areas, engage in interdisciplinary problem solving, and prepare for careers and graduate programs that increasingly cross academic disciplines.
Learn more about my degree program at the School of Letters and Sciences page at ASU.
I have completed a number of classes covering many different subjects. A description of the course work that I completed follows each highlighted concentration area.
The Department of English at Arizona State offers three separate academic concentrations involving writing, literature and linguistics. I have focused my academic career not in one specific area, but among the three avenues of study. Officially, my area of study is English Literature. However, I’ve completed classes in several other areas of English and consider myself to be a student of the discipline as a whole.
As proof of my ability to paint a solid picture with words, I offer a character study of someone that I met while playing basketball. The assignment entailed writing a profile of either a person or a place and using as much vivid detail as I could. I wanted to capture the way he talked and the game of basketball through his eyes. I received an A for the assignment.
I have completed classes in the following areas:
Survey of English Literature Sequence (ENG 221, ENG 222)
Taken in back to back semesters, these classes surveyed the cannon of English literature from the 1400’s to the late 1900’s. I gained exposure to the major authors of each period. The authors were often compared and contrasted through their use of various literary devices and common themes. I gained knowledge of the basic historical contexts that were present during the authoring of each work, and in this way gained an understanding of the culture of the founders of our country.
Survey of American Literature Sequence (ENG 394 twice)
Again, taken in back to back semesters, the survey class surveyed the major authors of American literature. The authors ranged from the Puritan colonial writings through the post-civil war topics of integration and compromise. In particular, I was able to understand how American writers differed from their British counterparts. Considering the linked cultural heritage that England and America share, this frame of reference proved invaluable in evaluating literature from a Global perspective.
Modern Travel Narratives (ENG 345)
In one class, I was able to gain a cultural knowledge of different areas of the world that were popular travel destinations for adventurous British and American authors in the 20th century. Also discussed was the concept of “voyage” and how that differed from an actual change of location in a few modern novels.
Shakespeare (ENG 421)
This was possible my favorite class in the entire English sequence. Shakespeare’s greatest trait is his way of understanding the basic emotions that run their courses through his audiences daily. Through his language, subjects like love, jealousy, honor and villainy gain personification and character. Over half of the idioms used in today’s language can be traced to his poems directly or indirectly.
Creative Writing Poetry Sequence (ENG 210, ENG 310, ENG 410)
These three writing classes taught me the importance of using the right word at the right time. Learning to find your voice and style is essential to becoming an accomplished author of any genre. Learning to compose poems taught me to consider the “economy of words” that the greatest authors and poets seem to do effortlessly.
My second concentration for my BIS degree is Human Communication, and it is in this area where I will be spending the remainder of my time academically. I’ve completed five of the required six classes.
Introduction to Human Communication (COM 100)
After learning the fundamentals of communication theory, including gender roles, group and public speaking, and inhibitors to communication, I understood that communication and language go hand in hand. The two subjects made a natural pairing for my degree.
Crisis Communication and Image Restoration (COM 400, special topic)
Systems theory suggests that when properly functioning, the product of a system is greater than the sum of its parts. Businesses are highly specialized systems, and as such, require a different set of rules for delivering a message to a public audience. These communication techniques become especially important during a crisis when the image of a company is called into question. Perception is everything in a crisis, and when every moment counts, knowing how to plan ahead and craft a message for a specific audience is the key to restoring consumer faith.
Our final assignment for this course asked us to prepare a document that we could present to the CEO of a made up company, explaining the importance of creating a Crisis Communication Plan. This plan is a step by step procedure for ensuring that in a crisis, a company’s critical messages can be tailored to effectively deliver information to a targeted audience.
The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication (COM 400, special topic)
Deception, secrets, stigma, bullying, harassment. These are five ways in which we choose to communicate under less than ideal circumstances. The aim of this class was not to eliminate these things from our lives completely, but rather to become better equipped in understanding the social circumstances in which they occur.
Public Speaking (COM 225)
This was one of the first classes that I took in my academic career, but the lessons learned have helped in almost every class I’ve taken since. Initially, I was terrified to be put in the spotlight, but I consistently had ideas that I felt the need to share with people. This class helped me to understand how best to organize my thoughts ahead of time. And when it came time for the actual presentation, it showed me techniques to use, things to avoid and above all else, how to project myself confidently to my audience.
Writing for the Professions (ENG 300, in progress)
This is an interdisciplinary class focusing on the combined impact of strong writing and integrated presentation techniques in written documents for the business world. The actual composition part of the class is strictly review for me, given my English Lit background. However, I learned how to best format documents for use in the business world, which is an often overlooked skill.