The mission of the University of St. Thomas English Department is to foster empathy and imagination, critical insight, power of expression, and appreciation for the variety of human experience. We strive to create a community of readers and writers who value both tradition and innovation, and who understand literary art as a medium of moral reflection as well as aesthetic pleasure.
Through its focus on literature and writing, the English Department provides key opportunities for students to develop skills and perspectives that will help them “be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.”
Recent cognitive research has begun to document what teachers and students of English have intuitively known all along—that reading imaginative literature uniquely fosters the development of empathy and the ability to apprehend complex human situations, even when those situations are remote from our own personal or cultural experience.
We also support the mission statement in our approach to writing, which we see as inclusive of, but not limited to, the ability of the written word to convey information and to argue persuasively a particular point of view; we are also committed to helping students use their writing as a medium of exploration, reflection, and imaginative engagement with their inner and outer lives.
Together, these skills enable students to enhance their understanding of the essential role language has in thought, values, and self-development; to see the complexities of the world; to participate creatively and responsibly in the world around them; and thus to contribute to the common good regardless of the professional field they pursue.