Creole Language and Culture Curriculum

The teaching of Haitian Creole Language and Culture at Notre Dame integrates language learning and anthropological study of Haiti in a four-course sequence in Romance Languages and Literatures Beginner I and II and Intermediate I and II. An elective taught in Creole can follow the sequence; a 30,000 level elective entitled Creole Migrations was offered in 2016. The sequence through the intermediate level concluded in Spring 2019. It began again in Academic Year 2019-2020. 

Background: Creole and Haitian Research, Scholarship and Application at the University of Notre Dame

Creole (Kreyòl) is spoken by an estimated seventeen million people. Creole speakers are in former or current French colonial territories and in the countries where many of these former island residents have emigrated, including the North America, France, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  Haitians are the largest Creole speech community of approximately 12 million speakers.

The University of Notre Dame and the Congregation of Holy Cross have a long history of engagement and partnership with Haiti. The university’s “Committed to Haiti” initiative recognizes our deep involvement in service and research in Haiti. Today, Notre Dame faculty and students work on a wide range of issues related to Haiti, from language and culture to history, literature and education, from engineering to public health to understand the obstacles to social stability and sustainability. Creole is integrated into the Center for the Study of Language and Culture through the use of CSLC’s Creole digital language learning resources and support for Creole tutoring. The Kellogg Institute of the Keogh School has also supported Creole and provided key synergy to bring together Notre Dame faculty, staff and students working in the areas of health, science, engineering, education, architecture, business, language and culture. A good example of this synergy is the current interdisciplinary (engineering, anthropology and political science) research project in Haiti, which is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation involving engineer Tracy Kijewski-Correa, political scientist Debra Javeline, anthropologist Karen Richman and graduate students in engineering and political science.

Other University programs engaged in research and service in Haiti include Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), The Center for Social Concerns’ Common Good Initiative, Engineering, Science, Business, the Haiti Program and the Eck Institute of Global Health. In 2014, Notre Dame’s engagement in research, scholarship and service related to Haiti were manifest at the annual meeting of the Haitian Studies Association, which was hosted at our campus.  Beyond the campus, many Notre Dame alumni and emeritus faculty volunteer in medical service to Haiti, in particular, the group of medical doctors known as Emil’s Army, in honor of their late dean and teacher, Emil Hofman. 

Creole is meanwhile becoming more integrated into Center for the Study of Language and Culture. CSLC purchased Creole digital language learning resources and has supported Creole tutoring.  There is potential through CSLC’s incorporation of new digital technology and online learning resources to develop online courses as well.