Swedish classes to leave with instructor

Students considering GISP to replace classes

By
Friday, March 14, 2008

While Brown students could choose from 24 foreign languages when picking classes this year, there may be one missing from that list in the fall – Swedish.

Brown currently offers four beginning and intermediate Swedish classes through the German department. Ann Weinstein, coordinator of the Swedish program, has been teaching the language at Brown since 1982, but has decided to retire at the end of this academic year.

“Several years ago it was decided that at my retirement Swedish would be discontinued,” the 67-year-old instructor wrote in an e-mail that her husband, Professor of Comparative Literature Arnold Weinstein, provided to The Herald. “These very small programs are vulnerable. I am sad Swedish will no longer be available.”

Katherine Goodman, a professor of German studies who chairs the department, wrote in an e-mail that “the decision was not made by the Department of German Studies alone.”

The change “was based on a number of complex issues which include the shifting needs of students for foreign language study,” said Goodman, though she did not identify what those needs were.

Anne Weinstein serves as the head instructor for all of the Swedish classes. But her husband, Arnold Weinstein, who has taught at Stockholm University, said he often assists her in class.

“It’s strange being in a class taught by a husband and wife,” said Graham Anderson ’10, a Herald opinions columnist currently enrolled in beginning Swedish. “They sometimes get into small arguments over the material.”

Anderson said he would not be devastated if Swedish were not offered next year, but he would be disappointed.

“I don’t think it’s very becoming of a school to just cancel a language if the instructor retires,” he said.

Currently, the Office of International Programs does not require students to have studied Swedish to enroll in the University’s program with the University of Stockholm, making it one of only four study abroad programs at Brown without a language requirement.

Though he does not intend to study abroad in Sweden, Anderson, who also knows French and German, said he enjoyed learning another language – especially when the Swedish introductory course did not require more than three class times a week. By contrast, other language classes at Brown meet usually four or fives times a week.

Arnold Weinstein said Brown sends five to 10 students to Stockholm every year.

“Sweden is a fabulous country to study, with a political culture and standard of living that are, to my thinking, quite eye-opening and instructive to Americans, for (the Swedish have) solved a good many of the social problems that are staring us in the face,” Arnold Weinstein said.

Margaret Merritt ’11, another student in beginning Swedish, said she was excited to take the language this year, especially since she is a quarter Swedish and still has family living in Sweden.

She is considering studying abroad and applying for an internship in the country.

“I am very upset by” the change, she said. “Another student in the class and I are looking into doing a (Group Independent Study Project) for Swedish next year if another professor is not hired,” she said.