Translation for Global Literacy

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AN UNDERGRADUATE MINORSkyline with buildings

                           to explore:

  • translation as a method for global literacy
  • the functions of translation in the age of globalization
  • the role of translation in culture formation
  • translation as a form of writing and critical thinking 


Globalization involves, among other things, the extensive and rapid exchange of knowledge and information. Virtually every form of global exchange--from material goods and natural resources to knowledge, values, ideologies, and cultures--depends on translation across languages. Aided by the unprecedented range of human migration, globalization has engendered rich syntheses between and among cultures, languages and sensibilities. Borders between countries have become tenuous, as we now speak of transnational, multi-cultural, multi-lingual spaces. In this reality, translation has become a new form of literacy, through which we come to know the others, ourselves, and the dynamic diversity that surrounds and shapes us.

portalThe purpose of the minor in Translation for Global Literacy is to encourage undergraduate students to explore translation as a crucial dimension of global literacy and communication.  Highly integrative, Translation for Global Literacy involves academic training at the intersection of world languages, creative writing, translation studies, and disciplinary programs. 

The minor can complement virtually all the programs in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and fine & performing arts. However, several programs correlate particularly well with the minor, including: all the language majors in the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures; English/Creative Writing; International Studies; Anthropology, Political Science, History, Area Studies (Middle East, Latin America, etc.), Communication Studies, Media Arts, and Linguistics.

Students who arrive at the University of Iowa with competence in a world language besides English (as demonstrated by previous studies or placement out of the GE language requirement on the placement examination), including students whose first language is not English, may find this minor an attractive way to enhance their communication skills and build on their UI studies in English.

Those interested in careers in translation are encouraged to combine the minor with a major in a world language, to complete a service learning project or internship in translation [arranged through the Pomerantz Career Center], and, ultimately, to consider graduate study in translation. 


  • A minimum of 18 s.h., including 12 s.h. in courses taken at The University of Iowa. (Please see Curriculum section below.)
  • A cumulative g.p.a. of 2.00 and a g.p.a. of 2.00 in all courses completed for the minor.
  • Students are encouraged to declare the minor after having satisfied the GE language requirement in the source language. 
  • For students whose first language is not English, any required ESL coursework should be completed before declaring the minor.
  • Students’ plan of study must be tailored to their experience and objectives, given the great number of courses that could be used to satisfy program requirements. 
  • Students interested in pursuing the minor should contact Aron Aji, coordinator, for the Translation for Global Literacy, in order to be paired with an advisor to develop an appropriate plan of study before their second semester of coursework.  Approval of the coordinator is required for admission to the capstone course.


To graduate with a Minor in Translation for Global Literacy, students complete coursework in the five areas below.

A. (3 s.h.) Introductory Gateway/Core Course: TRNS 2000 Translation and the Global Society

B. (6 s.h.) Translation courses:2 courses from the following list:

  • ASIA:3208/TRNS:3208 Classical Chinese Literature through Translation
  • ASLE:2500  Introduction to Interpreting
  • ENGL:4724  Writer’s Seminar: Literary Translation
  • FREN:4890/TRNS 4497 Techniques of Translation [may count as the capstone]
  • GRMN:3200  Literary Translation from German
  • IWP:5205/TRNS:5205  International Translation Workshop
  • JPNS:3201/TRNS:3201  Workshop in Japanese Literary Translation
  • SPAN:3030  Translation Workshop: English to Spanish
  • SPAN:3050  Translation Workshop: Spanish to English
  • SPAN:4980  Advanced Translation: Spanish to English [may count as the capstone]
  • TRNS:3179/CLSA:3979/ENGL:3850  Undergraduate Translation Workshop
  • TRNS:3491  Translation Internship
  • TRNS:3498/ARAB:3498  Translate Iowa Project
  • TRNS:4050  Translation Independent Study

C. (6 s.h.) Language, Linguistics, Literature and Culture courses: 2 courses on language, linguistics, literature in translation, comparative literature, national or transnational literature and/or culture. Possible courses include but are not limited to:

  • ASIA:1510/WLLC:1510 Ghosts & Tales of the Weird in Pre-Modern Chinese Literature
  • ASL:3600  American Sign Language Literature
  • CHIN:4203/CL:4203  Modern Chinese Writers
  • CL:4800/TRNS:4800  Seminar in Comparative Literature
  • FREN:1501  Cultural Misunderstandings: France & USA
  • FREN:3130  French-Speaking Cultures
  • GRMN:2618/CL:2618  The Third Reich and Literature
  • GRMN:2666/CL:2666  Pact with the Devil
  • GRMN:3550  German Multicultural Literature and Film
  • JPNS:3203/CL:3203  Modern Japanese Fiction in Translation
  • IWP:3191/WLLC:3191/ENGL:3595  International Literature Today
  • ITAL:2550 Images of Modern Italy

  • ITAL:4633 Dante’s Inferno

  • LING:1040  Language Rights

  • LING:1060  Languages of the World
  • LING:3001  Introduction to Linguistics
  • SLAV:3203/CL:3302  Russian Literature in Translation, 1860-1917  

D. (3 s.h.) Capstone: Either TRNS:4500 UG Capstone Project, or a departmental capstone course in which the student completes a capstone project on translation [with the consent of the instructor].To be taken in final semester of minor.

E. Additionally:

  • Students are encouraged to take advantage of Study Abroad opportunities.  Overseas courses in translation, IES internship programs and other hands-on experiences can count toward the requirements for the minor.  Adviser approval required.   
  • At least 6 s.h. of coursework in the source language beyond the GE requirement should be included in the minor. This requirement may be satisfied by translation courses or by courses taught in the source language. Students whose first language is not English should take at least 6 s.h. coursework in language, linguistics, literature, or culture in courses taught in English numbered 2000 or above.
  • A maximum of 6 s.h. coursework taken for another major, minor, or certificate can count toward the minor.
  • At least 12 s.h. of coursework must be in courses numbered 2000 or higher.


The undergraduate minor in Translation and Global Literacy is housed in the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures; it is coordinated by Aron Aji and an Advisory Board of faculty members, representing the departments in the division.   The coordinator and the members of the advisory board will be chiefly responsible for advising students throughout the minor.


Advisory Board:

  • Chair: Aron Aji, Translation, Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Denise Filios, Associate Professor, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Jan Steyn, Lecturer, Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Adrienne Rose, Lecturer, Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Michel Laronde, Professor, French and Francophone Studies
  • Glenn Erhstine, Associate Professor, German Studies
  • AmyRuth McGraw, Director, American Sign Language
  • Yasmine Ramadan, Assistant Professor, Arabic Studies
  • Brian Gollnick, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Jill Beckman, Associate Professor, Linguistics
  • Kendall Heitzman, Associate Professor of Japanese, Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Alex Niemi, Instructor of Russian, Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures


For more information, contact