For decades we have all been hearing about the demise of English departments, but the Bachelor's degree program in English Writing, Literature, and Publishing (EWLP) at The American University of Rome (AUR) continues to buck this trend and has become one of the fastest-growing majors at AUR. There are an abundance of articles reciting statics about the decline in student numbers, the lack of interest in literature and reading in general, and the unwillingness of parents to pay thousands of dollars for a degree that won’t “guarantee” a job. But the statics show otherwise. Rather than the old joke about English majors ending up as baristas at coffee shops, a 2018 U.S. government Census Bureau Community Survey showed that English majors are less likely to work in low-skill positions than other “professional” degree holders. They don’t just go on to be teachers, either. English majors are nearly statistically equivalent to other majors in going on to become entrepreneurs, CEOs, lawyers, web designers, and technology innovators.
At AUR, most EWLP graduates go on to writing jobs, and the opportunities in nearly every sector of employment for good writers are exploding. From websites to online journals, electronic news sites, and technology start-ups, the job market for the major is competitive.
According to Professor Lisa Colletta, the program’s director, “Nearly everyone one of our new majors chose the degree because they love to read and write, and, of course, because AUR is only one of only a handful of programs that requires publishing and digital design courses as part of the major.” She added, “Our students undertake challenging internships and go on to jobs that they want in a field they have chosen. They have a good sense of humor about the apparent irony of choosing to study English in Rome, but for them, it makes sense to study what they want at the same time they get the opportunity to explore another culture. Besides, our majors are not all native English speakers. We have students from Bangladesh, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Norway, Russia, and Tunisia.”
“So, in addition to the traditional educational values inherent in the major, fostering creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills from close reading--not to mention encouraging empathy, a certain flexibility of mind, and an understanding of another point of view--our students learn to LIVE and WORK in an increasingly diverse and complicated world.”