The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures comprises a community of scholar-teachers based in the humanities division of the College of Arts and Letters, the oldest, and largest, of the four undergraduate colleges of the University of Notre Dame. With some 2,500 undergraduate students and 750 graduate students, the college is organized into three divisions: the fine arts, the humanities, and the social sciences. As the largest of Notre Dame's foreign language and literature departments, Romance Languages and Literatures plays a critical role in interpreting and expressing Notre Dame's complex identity as both a residential liberal arts college and a dynamic research university.
The Department also contributes in many ways to Notre Dame's mission as a Catholic institution of international standing. As a Catholic academic community of higher learning, Notre Dame seeks "to provide a forum where through free inquiry and open discussion the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity." Given their common Latinate and Catholic origins and their continuing deep cultural kinship and global range the Romance languages represents particularly vital intersections of Catholic intellectual, artistic, and cultural traditions both within the University of Notre Dame, and within a wider "globalized" network of contemporary humanities scholarship and creative expression. Faculty in the Department are accordingly engaged in research and teaching in the many traditions and lines of inquiry that make up the Romance cultural area, including French and Francophone, Iberian and Latin American, and Italian Studies, and seek to cultivate the highest quality of scholarly activity in these fields and to "advance knowledge in a search for truth through original inquiry and publication" (University of Notre Dame Mission Statement).
The University of Notre Dame prides itself on providing an environment "of teaching and learning which fosters the development in its students of those disciplined habits of mind, body and spirit which characterize educated, skilled and free human beings." In support of this goal, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures bears witness through its scholarship and teaching to the importance of studying foreign languages and getting to know the world through them. The Department therefore promotes and supports language learning through programs that work toward the common goal of "educated citizenship." One of our key educational goals is advanced competence in the target language, which is to say, the ability to conduct mature human relationships in the "other's" language, whether these relationships are social, professional, or strategic (Mary Louise Pratt, “Building a New Public Idea about Language,” ADFL Bulletin, 34.3 (2003): 5-9). The Department fosters relations between Notre Dame and the Romance world(s) of Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia through its ties to research institutes and universities throughout the world, and through its support of Notre Dame's International Studies Programs in France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. Through its interactions with hosting scholars and students from these parts of the world, the Department faculty makes a vital contribution to Notre Dame's international standing as a Catholic institution of higher learning.