Frequently Asked Questions

What languages does PLU offer?

What if I am bilingual? Can my second language count towards the entrance or the CAS language requirement?

Students seeking to fulfill the CAS language requirement through a claim of bilingual background must provide evidence or verification of their language proficiency, that is, they must be able to speak, write, listen, and read in the target language at a level comparable to a 202 language course or above at PLU. Evidence or verification of their proficiency level may be presented in at least one of the following ways:

  • letter from a member of the community where the target language is spoken that addresses the student’s level of proficiency in all four skill areas and/or the dimensions of the student’s “true bilingualism”;
  • documentation related to Korean, German, Japanese, Chinese, Yiddish, etc. weekend school;
  • an interview of the student by a PLU faculty member who speaks the target language in question with a follow-up message from the faculty member to the Chair of Global & Cultural Studies (253-535-7216 or describing the students language proficiency level;
  • other comparable evidence (proficiency test by area community college or university in the target language, etc.) upon consultation with the Chair of Global & Cultural Studies. Students who fulfill their CAS language requirement in the manner described above will not receive PLU credit (this, in essence, would constitute giving PLU credit for background and experience). Students who fulfill their CAS language requirement in the manner described above may not receive cross-cultural credit.

PROCEDURES 1) Students seeking to fulfill their CAS language requirement through a claim of bilingualism should be advised to acquire the evidence of documentation of their language proficiency as soon as possible in their PLU career. 2) Once they have the documentation, they should make an appointment with the Chair of Global & Cultural Studies (253-535-7216 or to receive their CAS credit.

Tell me more about independent study opportunities.

Students may, with the consent of a faculty member and the Chair of Global and Cultural Studies, earn one to four academic credits through an Independent Study course. These courses will normally be numbered 291 or 491. Independent Study involves “advanced tutorial or guidance for individual students” and exists “to provide individual undergraduate students with advanced study not available in the regular curriculum.” Thus Independent Study is not normally used to earn credit for courses offered by the Department of Global and Cultural Studies, or for the Senior Seminar/Project (the “capstone”). There is no obligation or expectation that faculty accept student proposals for Independent Study.

Can I use a computer to translate my homework?

Among the fundamental goals of second language and cultural study at the university level is the acquisition of the cognitive skills necessary to express one’s own thoughts and ideas effectively in the second language without dependence upon others. Central to this goal is the principle of Academic Integrity, which states that “students are inherently responsible to do their own work, thereby insuring the integrity of their academic records.”

The challenge, and at times the struggle, of learning to formulate coherent thoughts in a second language forms an integral part of the process of second language acquisition. The use of machine translation by students to complete assignments in courses in which second language acquisition is a primary goal subverts the aim of gaining practice and skill in thinking for oneself in the target language. Moreover, it short-circuits the capacity of students to appreciate and gain skill in the use of idiom in the target language, an aspect of translation in which machine translators are notoriously weak.

Among the definitions of cheating included in PLU’s policy on Academic Integrity is “[the use of] information or devices not allowed by the faculty, such as formulas or a computer program or data….” Given the aims and the realities mentioned above, and in light of PLU’s policy on Academic Integrity, the Department of Global & Cultural Studies issues the following guidelines on the use of machine translation for students of language, literature, and culture:

  1. The use of machine translation in the writing of graded homework and other class assignments in which language counts is strictly prohibited.
  2. The use of machine translation in the creation of other work authored by a student and submitted for a grade must be declared in writing as part of the document in question.
  3. Failure to follow these guidelines will be treated by faculty as a breach of PLU’s policy on Academic Integrity.

What if I have a dispute about my grade in a course?

The Department of Global and Cultural Studies follows the Grade Dispute Policy of the College of Liberal Studies.

The College of Liberal Studies and its faculty are dedicated to fair and accurate appraisal of students’ coursework. When disagreements arise over final grades assigned for a course, students and faculty are to follow the procedures below for resolving the dispute.  This policy does not apply to grade disputes arising over alleged violations of the university’s Academic Integrity Policy; such disputes are considered by the Campus Life Committee.  Neither does this policy apply to grade disputes arising over alleged violations of university policy by the faculty member; such disputes are considered by the University Dispute Resolution Committee.

Informal Grade Dispute Procedure

The first steps in resolving a grade dispute are informal. A student who disputes a grade should discuss the reason for the grade with the faculty member who assigned the grade prior to initiating any formal grade appeal. If an instructor has a dispute resolution procedure described in the course syllabus, that procedure must be consistent with this policy and should first have been followed.  No student should discuss any grade-related complaint with a faculty member’s chair or dean without first discussing the complaint with the faculty member who assigned the grade.

Formal Grade Dispute Procedure

No formal grade dispute procedure will be invoked when the magnitude of disagreement is less than one full letter grade (i.e., disagreements over A- versus B will not trigger a formal grade dispute resolution procedure).

A student who has completed informal efforts at resolution, has a disagreement amounting to at least one full letter grade, and wishes to invoke the formal grade dispute procedure should understand that in the course of pursuing the dispute, her or his coursework may, with the faculty member’s consent, be referred to qualified external graders, most likely the faculty member’s departmental colleagues who teach in the same field. The student should understand that external referral involves an independent grading of the work. As a result, external referral may lead to a recommendation for lowering the grade as well as a recommendation for raising the grade, or to no change at all.

1. It is best if the formal complaint is made as soon as possible, but must be lodged within 28 calendar days after the first day of the fall or spring semester immediately following the semester for which the disputed grade was received.

2. The complaint must be in writing with full explanation and supporting materials.  If the complaint is not against a chair, it should be sent to the chair of the department to which the instructor belongs.  If it is against a chair; it should be sent to the dean.

3. The chair or dean reviews the case, based on all relevant information, and determines whether the complaint involves an alleged violation either of the Academic Integrity Policy or other university policy.  If so, the complaint is referred to the Campus Life Committee or the University Dispute Resolution Committee, as appropriate.

4. The chair or dean may refer a blind copy of the student’s coursework to one or more qualified external graders. The external grader will report his or her findings to the chair or dean.

5. After reviewing all relevant materials, the chair or dean will submit a written recommendation for the resolution of the dispute to the student and the instructor.  This recommendation will be advisory only.  The instructor will have no obligation to follow the recommendation, but should inform the student, the chair, and the dean of his or her decision.  The instructor’s decision about the grade will be final.

6. If questions arise about the application of this policy (during the process 1-5), the chair or dean may request additional review by the division’s chairs’ council.  CAS deans, 5/7/10, emended slightly 5/18/10

How can I get help planning my academic pathway to academic success at PLU?

Visit My Academic Pathway.  Here you will find My Academic Pathway, which provides you with the basic tools for planning your pathway to academic success at PLU.  Here you can find out more information on Charting Your Course; Two-Year Course Cycles; Four-Year Advising Guides; and Career Connections.

Make an appointment to talk with your faculty advisor, with a member of the Global and Cultural Studies faculty, or with the Chair of Global and Cultural Studies, Ami Shah (  We are all here to help you find success.