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2014 PIIRS Global Seminars


Our Multilingual World: Regional and Global Responses to Linguistic Diversity

Geneva, Switzerland, June 9 - July 18, 2014

“Our Multilingual World: Regional and Global Responses to Linguistic Diversity” will be taught at the  University of Geneva from June 9 – July 18, 2014. The seminar is led by David Bellos, professor of French and Italian and comparative literature.

How do cities, states, and international bodies cope with the diversity of languages spoken in the world? This seminar takes place in a cosmopolitan city that houses many of the world’s most important multilingual organizations, and is located in Europe’s most successful and long-lasting multilingual state. In cooperation with the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, a world-class school for translators and interpreters, the seminar introduces the social and political approach to the study of language and a brief historical overview of multilingual societies, focusing on the Swiss example. Its main topics include the issues raised by linguistic diversity for international relations and international law; the language practices of international organizations; and the role of translation in a global society. Distinguished guest lecturers from the UN, the Department of Education of the Republic of Geneva, and the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Translation and Interpreting and its Global Studies Institute will discuss problems raised by the use of International English as well as those created by the voluntary separation of dialects into national languages. Students will do fieldwork at the International Labor Office and the World Intellectual Property Office in Geneva, and also in less formally structured multilingual environments among the Albanian and Portuguese communities in the city. There will be an excursion to the Romansch-speaking area of Switzerland and other visits to bilingual towns and areas in and around the Swiss Alps. The overall aim of the seminar is to give students direct experience as well as an informed understanding of the ways in which the challenges of linguistic diversity have been and are being met in local, national, and global spheres.

The course fulfills the Social Analysis (SA) requirement and counts as an elective for the Certificate in Translation and Intercultural Communication. It is open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who have fulfilled the undergraduate language requirement. Admission is by application and interview.

The PIIRS Global Seminar in Geneva, Switzerland, is cosponsored by Sovereign Bank.

November 20, 2013
219 Aaron Burr Hall
5:30-7 p.m.
Pizza will be served

February 10, 2014
5 p.m.

February 2014
Information Session
Interviews Begin

March 2014
Acceptance Deadline


Pre-Departure Orientation Meeting


Rebecca Aguas, Administrator
PIIRS Global Seminar in Geneva
323 Aaron Burr Hall