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In the aftermath of COVID-19 shutdowns at campuses across the U.S. in the spring of 2020, student enrollments have fallen and budgets have been severely constrained. To counteract the current and long-term repercussions of the pandemic on institutions of higher education, administrators have called for innovative program development and strategic transformation. In the past, many engineering and world languages departments may have considered the task of creating a collaborative degree program insurmountable or undesirable despite existing models that are successful (e.g. University of Rhode Island’s IEP program). In the era of COVID-19, however, innovative programs combining language with disciplines outside the humanities may not only attract students to study a language, but also pursue a university degree in general.

This study examines how conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic led to the support of administrators for new program initiatives, improved cross-campus communication, and establishment of in-person and virtual study and internship abroad experiences. The following describes the experiences of two faculty members in German and Engineering engaged in the early stages of development of a dual degree program in Global Engineering and German. After years of gestation, the program reached a critical point of initiation in the spring and fall of 2020, during campus closures and the shutting of international borders. Precisely the need for innovation brought on by the pandemic led to the collaboration and final acceptance by administrators necessary to bring the program to fruition.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.