PLNU Combines Literature, Literature Education, and Writing Majors, to Mixed Responses

By: Milla Kuiper

On Friday, March 15, a room full of writing and literature majors found out about some significant changes coming to their programs at the Advising Chapel for the Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) department of Literature, Journalism, Writing and Languages (LJWL).

While some students initially reacted with horror and a few others with wistfulness, many were quite excited about the benefits the new program has to boast.

The three programs will be combined into a single English major, with three concentrations representing the three groups, starting in the Fall of 2024, according to the presentation given at the advising chapel by Bettina Pedersen, professor of literature at PLNU and Robbie Maakestad, assistant professor of writing at PLNU. 

For both literature and literature education students, less units will be required to graduate than in their current programs. 

While this change will mostly affect incoming students, and no current students will be required to change the majors they’re so proud of, current students have the opportunity to switch to the new program, and LJWL faculty are strongly encouraging first and second year students to make the switch. 

“I think I will [switch],” said Caden Chadwick, a second-year literature education major. “They hit me with the ‘less credits’ and I was so down.”

The main reason for all the changes is a California law change that created an easier pathway for English majors to become teachers.

“I think if you’re a first or second-year student, it makes a lot of sense to switch,” said Pedersen. “All three of the concentrations will be a pathway toward a teaching credential. Now that you have that option, that really opens up a lot of opportunities that weren’t there before.”

Pedersen also said she believes the change will lead to an increase in enrollment. The hope is that seeing an English major on the school’s website will be more appealing to parents and prospective students than only having literature and writing.

While some current writing students were specifically looking for a school that could offer them a writing degree instead of English, first-year writing major Kate Williams fits the demographic that Pedersen is hoping to reach. 

“It [English] was actually what I originally was looking for [in a college],” Williams, who plans on making the switch, said. 

Aliah Fabros, a third-year writing major, is one of the students who was looking to study writing specifically. 

“I was only willing to go to a school that majored in writing, I didn’t want to major in English,” Fabros said. “So I’m glad that it changed after, because I wouldn’t have applied.”

However, PLNU didn’t have the Master’s in writing program that it has now when Fabros started her college career. 

“I think I might’ve gone if they had English here but I knew they had such a strong Master’s in writing program that was going to be accessible to the undergrad students,” Fabros said.

Fabros is graduating at the end of the Fall 2024 semester, but she said that even if she had the time to switch her major, she wouldn’t. 

“If I was a freshman and I had the opportunity to switch, personally, I’d stick with writing.”

Fabros said this is because she’s interested in things other than teaching, such as publishing, PR and creative marketing, but there is also some sadness attached to saying goodbye to the label of ‘writing major.’

Fabros said her first ever writing class at PLNU was “such a formative experience of figuring out our writing style and our voices and our place at PLNU,” for her and her friend Jordan Stokes. 

The class will stay the same, but its name will change from ‘Writing 2020’ to ‘English 2020.’ 

“I think that just to us it’s just the lore of that class has changed when the name of it changes, and it feels like the end of an era,” Fabros said. “But it’s coinciding with the end of our era at PLNU so I feel like it’s almost fitting.”

Pedersen affirmed this sentiment, saying, “I think any time there is a change in the identity of a group that you’re associated with, there’s a sense of loss there. But I don’t think it’ll end up being a loss.”

Another reason for this is that there will be more opportunities for community between the concentrations. “For the students, maybe one of the most interesting changes will be that there will be a handful of core classes that everybody takes together,” Pedersen said.

One downside for writing majors is that if they choose to switch, they will be required to take more credits than they need currently. 

This has affected the decision of Sofia Lo Piano, a third-year writing major who transferred to PLNU in the Fall of 2023. 

Despite being interested in the opportunity, she likely won’t choose to change her major. 

“As a transfer student, I’ve already made my way this far,” Lo Piano said. “I’m not trying to make it more complicated than it already has been; I’m already trying to play catch up.”