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Language is our quintessential human capacity. It separates us from all other animals and has enabled us to create complex civilisations, technology, and culture.
UBC is an epicentre for groundbreaking research in the language sciences. From investigating children’s development of language, to examining dyslexia and recovery from stroke, to studying how meaning is made in endangered languages, to modelling the human vocal tract, language is at the core of what a great many UBC researchers do, and do very well.
2015 marked the beginning of a new UBC-wide Language Sciences initiative, generously supported by long-time Vancouver educator and language and literacy advocate Marietta Hurst.
Spearheaded by faculty from Psychology, Linguistics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and extending to faculty from Sciences, Education, Medicine and beyond, this initiative aims to foster collaboration and connections between researchers working in all areas of the language sciences, and to communicate this knowledge to both graduate and undergraduate students. It envisions the language sciences in a broad and inclusive fashion, and as an interdisciplinary and diverse pursuit. And it intends to put UBC’s language sciences research into the university, national, and international spotlight.
In 2016, the initiative received funding through UBC's Excellence Funds as a Research Excellence Cluster.
In addition to promoting collaborative cross-discipline research, joint events and new student opportunities, Language Sciences is developing a pan-university, project-based undergraduate language sciences course which will be open to all UBC students.
The aim of this course is to enable students to become the owners of the knowledge they have gained at UBC, to understand the power and limitations of that knowledge, and to position them to build on, and become active curators, creators, and appliers of knowledge. The content area, Language Sciences, is the foundation of all that we as humans do – from the creation and acquisition of spoken language through writing systems, texts of all kinds, arts, culture, technology, etc. This content area was selected because knowing about it will better position students to make the critical transition from student to roles beyond the university (as a professional, politician, parent, etc.), or to go on to further study. The course will eventually be rolled out to the community as well.