Life In The Department

Photo by Lorraine Padgett

The small, focused character of the department, and its commitment to research interaction among faculty and students, makes for a lively work environment. A regular colloquium series brings in speakers from other institutions to present current research. In addition there are reading groups in various areas, occasional ad hoc research forums, and informal presentations, such as practice run-throughs for conference talks. Once each year the participants of the Graduate Research Seminar present their papers to the entire department (and interested visitors) at an organized mini-conference (LASC, Linguistics at Santa Cruz), giving students the opportunity to gain valuable conference experience at an early point in their career. The annual undergraduate research conference (LURC) is also an important intellectual and social event for the whole department. Finishing students present their dissertations in the form of a department-level talk as well.

The intellectual life of the department is enriched by informal and collaborative research and reading groups, in which students and faculty come together to share new ideas and to ask questions in an informal setting. The Linguistics Research Center Labs, which are well integrated with one another and are also well integrated with the theoretical side of the department, also function as important centers of research activity.

Apart from its lively research life, the department is also distinguished by its strong commitment to excellence in teaching (five of the eleven permanent faculty have won Teaching Excellence awards and many of its graduate students have won Outstanding TA awards). The sequence of required graduate courses is tightly structured and carefully thought out, and it includes instruction in the pedagogy of linguistics. The department has an undergraduate program to which it is very committed, and whose excellence is widely recognized. Graduate students are actively involved in undergraduate instruction; they teach under close supervision in their core areas of interest, and are closely mentored. Graduates of the PhD program emerge as expert and committed teachers, which is one of the reasons why they have been so successful in obtaining academic positions.

The campus itself, situated in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains overlooking the Monterey Bay, provides a work environment of unmatched natural beauty. Campus scenery alternates between coastal redwood forest and vistas of the harbor and of the bay.