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Faculty Spotlight

Submitted by Caroli Leiman on June 23, 2015 - 11:40am

Visiting lecturer in Lithuanian Aušra Valančiauskienė

2014-2015 was my third year at University of Washington at the department of Scandinavian Studies. I have really enjoyed it! I taught Elementary Lithuanian (LITH 101; 102; 103)  and prepared  a new course LITH 201, 202 and 203. As always, I took delight in teaching beginners and seeing how they learn Lithuanian, growing more confident step by step. It was compelling to see how Second year students were improving their skills and learning new grammatical structures, building their vocabulary and becoming well-versed in more complex discussions. 
Additionally, I have prepared a textbook with communicational phrases and video material for A2 level (Vaškevičienė, L., Kutanovienė, E., Valančiauskienė, A. „Pažiūrėk! Paklausyk! Pasakyk!“, Vilnius: Eugrimas, 2015) together with two colleagues from Vilnius University. I have also designed a syllabus for Third Year Lithuanian 310 which I will be teaching in 2015-2016. I have began working on preparing a Lithuanian Proficiency test. 

I had a pleasureable experience preparing an educational trip about University of Washington to Lithuanian Heritage School students and their parents. I have performed at Seattle Public Library and Folklife Festival with Lithuanian Folk dance group "Lietutis". I am also excited to take part in the 10th American Lithuanian Song Festival in Chicago on July 3-5 this summer with Seattle Lithuanian Community choir "Vakarai". 

I am looking forward to my fourth year at University of Washington!


Visiting Lecturer of Finnish Ilmari Ivaska

The academic year of 2014-15 was the first for me as the visiting lecturer of Finnish language and culture, so there was obviously a lot of new things to learn, to understand, as well as new responsibilities to take care of. I taught the Finnish first year courses through the year, with 8-11 enrolled students. The course was highly motivated and very successful, in terms of the level of language skills they acquired during the year. Three of the nine students that finished the Finn 103 course will also go to Finland for the summer, as they got accepted to CIMO language courses. As for other courses taught, the second year of Finnish had 2 students in the fall, of whom one left the college altogether after the fall and the other being a staff member didn't have any more time to continue with the studies. In the winter, then, the course on Finnish cultural and literary history had a recored-breaking participation of 25 students, and the course was, in my opinion, successful. As this was the first time for me to teach the course, there were definitely things I will do differently the next time, but overall experience was very positive both for me and for the students. I also wanted to introduce a new course right from the beginning, so I created already in the fall a proposal for a course called "Typological and historical perspectives on Finnish language" that I taught in the spring quarter. The course was geared towards students of our department as well as for the students of linguistics, and the department of linguistics also agreed to include the course as an elective for their majors and minors. The response was very satisfying, as 11 students ended up finishing the course, even though it got in the time schedule only after the enrollment period had already started. I feel also confident that students enjoyed the class, and I believe many of them learned a new way of seeing, comparing and talking about languages, their characteristics and their history.
As for research, the academic year has been very productive and busy as well. I have published several articles in academic journals, edited two volumes of conference proceedings, and finished and submitted my own PhD dissertation that I hope to defend early fall at the University of Turku, in Finland. I did also participate in two conferences, and gave a paper in both of them. Further, I began a new research project focusing on the motivation and reasons the students of our department have for learning foreign languages. So far, preliminary results look interesting, as they show that the students' background does not influence their learning, motivation or effort they put in studying in one way or another, whereas clear ideas of the future use of the skills do so remarkably. I believe the results – besides being interesting from the point-of-view of second language acquisition research – will prove useful for making the language programs of the department even more successful and effective than they are now.

Professor Christine Ingebritsen; Director, Center for West European Studies; Chair, Hellenic Studies Program

Professor Ingebritsen will be teaching two new courses in the coming academic year, "INNOVATION," and "POLITICS and LITERATURE" with Desiree Ohrbeck.    She continues to supervise research on eco-capitalism, to put together a short book on the challenges of balancing ecology and capitalism.   A reader of all her articles and several book chapters  (on the politics of whaling, the EU, military and foreign policy making, immigration, and lessons from crime fiction) will be compiled and available this fall.   Ingebritsen wishes to thank Terje Leiren for his leadership; and Debbie Olson for her role as lead administrator in our Department.   We are looking forward to working with Andrew Nestingen as Chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies.

Terje I. Leiren, Professor of Scandinavian Studies, Sverre Arestad Endowed Chair in Norwegian Studies

PROFESSOR TERJE LEIREN has had an enjoyable and eventful year. He was appointed to be the Acting Chair of the Department for Winter and Spring Quarters following Professor Jan Sjåvik's retirement on December 15.   The hiring of Dr. Olivia Gunn to be Assistant Professor in Norwegian, beginning in September, 2015, ensures the continued strength and development of the Department's Norwegian program.  Professor Leiren organized and hosted the 2014 "Norway Seminar," an annual meeting of teachers and researchers of Norwegian, in October, bringing to campus several speakers from Norway who focused on various aspects of the Arctic.  Celebrating the occasion of the bicentennial of the Norwegian Constitution of 1814, Professor Leiren was invited to lecture at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He also contributed a chapter on the significant events of 1814 in Norway to a special art publication commemorating the Constitution of May 17, 1814. The book, titled 1814-2014: RØDT, HVITT OG BLÅTT: NORSK GRUNNLOV, AMERIKANSK INSPIRASJON was published in Oslo by Art Pro Forlag A/S and also features artistic representations inspired by the Constitution in addition to articles by scholars from Norway and the United States.