College of Arts and Letters


Academic Units


School of Communication Studies

Dr. Sharon Mazzarella, Director


Department of English

Dr. Mark Parker, Head


Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Dr. Giuliana Fazzion, Head


Department of History

Dr. Gabrielle Lanier, Interim Head


Department of Justice Studies

Dr. Glenn P. Hastedt, Head


School of Media Arts and Design

Dr. Steven Anderson, Director


Department of Philosophy and Religion

Dr. Charles Boylard, Head


Department of Political Science

Dr. Charles H. Blake, Head


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Beth Eck, Head


School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication

Dr. Traci Zimmerman, Interim Head


Mission Statement

The College of Arts and Letters serves multiple vital needs of JMU students. First, it offers high-quality programs of specialized study in the social sciences, humanities, and communication, and in several pre-professional and cross disciplinary areas. Second, the college provides a challenging array of courses designed to promote lifelong learning by sharpening analytical abilities; improving computational and communications skills; cultivating a facility with written expression; enhancing cultural awareness, intensifying moral and aesthetic sensitivity and fostering awareness of the contingent nature of knowledge. Linking these two missions is a college-wide commitment to free but rigorous and controlled inquiry into human nature.



In addition to the special goals of each major, all programs in the college are committed to helping the students achieve the following common objectives:

  • Improve foundational skills fostered by general education courses: writing, critical thinking, information access through technology and, where appropriate, foreign languages.
  • Develop the ability to use writing to acquire knowledge and to communicate ideas effectively through writing-intensive courses required in the major.
  • Enrich cultural perspectives essential to effective citizenship in the 21st century; global awareness and appreciation of American cultural diversity.
  • Provide significant active-learning experiences through field courses, research projects, internships, studies abroad and simulations.


Majors and Minors

Students may select from a broad spectrum of major and minor programs in the seven departments and three schools. The departments and schools fully describe their programs in the Academic Programs section.


Cross Disciplinary Activities

In addition to departmental majors and minors, the college offers a wide array of interdepartmental majors, minors, pre-professional programs, general education courses, annual events and supporting services, some of which reach out to the regional community. Information on cross disciplinary programs offered by the College of Arts and Letters may be found in the Cross Disciplinary Studies section.


Pre-professional Programs



Coordinator: Dr. Jessica Adolino
Phone: (540) 568-6413


Students who plan to apply to law school may select their major from a wide range of fields, depending upon their interests. The scope of the law is broad and offers room for individuals of varied educational and intellectual backgrounds. Students should choose courses that provide them with broad informational and cultural preparation and develop their reasoning abilities.

Especially valuable to a pre-law program are courses in:


  • Communication, including composition, language and speech, which enable students to express themselves well
  • The humanities and social sciences, which help
    students to appreciate and perform effectively in their culture and society
  • Logic, mathematics and the natural sciences, which develop skills of fact discrimination, analysis and synthesis
  • Accounting


Also important to the pre-law program is the Pre-law Society and Phi Alpha Delta, student organizations which organize law- related activities.



Coordinator: Dr. Iain S. Maclean

Phone: (540) 568-7059


The pre-theology program prepares students to enter professional schools of religion (divinity schools, seminaries, theological schools). These professional schools prepare the student for a variety of careers, such as ministry, religious education and religious work with youth and others. The program at JMU will provide excellent preparation not only for acceptance at these schools but also for enriched professional training.


A student in this program may major in any field he/she chooses, although the American Association for Theological Schools recommends substantial pre-professional training in philosophy and religion. This professional accrediting agency also recommends a broad background in English language and literature; history (American and European); both the physical and the life sciences; the social sciences (particularly psychology, anthropology and sociology); biblical and classical (Greek and Latin) languages and, of course, religion, including the Bible, history of religious traditions and theology.



Resource and Service Centers


Archaeology Collection

Coordinator: Dr. Julie Solometo

Phone: (540) 568-6171


The archaeology collection contains prehistoric and historic material excavated at numerous Virginia archaeological sites as well as an extensive library collection of site reports, artifact identification guides and maps. Artifact study collections spanning the 12,000 year occupation of Virginia's Ridge and Valley Province are also being developed for teaching and research purposes.


Center for Public Broadcasting/ WMRA-WEMC

Phone: (540) 568-6221




The Center for Public Broadcasting's mission is to foster informed, engaged and culturally enriched communities. It serves over 50,000 listeners in the Shenandoah Valley, Charlottesville and Farmville areas.


The center comprises a network of non-commercial public radio stations, serving Harrisonburg at 90.7 FM, Charlottesville at 103.5 FM, Lexington at 89.9 FM and Winchester at 94.5 FM, and one standalone station, WEMC, serving Harrisonburg at 91.7 FM. The WMRA network stations are licensed to the James Madison University Board of Visitors. WEMC is licensed to Eastern Mennonite University, but is operated entirely by the center. Much of WMRA's programming is rebroadcast by WMLU 91.3 FM, the station owned by Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. WMRA and WEMC are members of National Public Radio, and are affiliated with Public Radio International and American Public Media. The stations broadcast 24 hours per day year-round, offering extensive in-depth news coverage and classical, folk ,blues and jazz music. The center also operates Valley Voice Radio Reading Service for the print-impaired. Listeners and local businesses contribute nearly three-quarters of the center's annual budget.




Annual Events


Conference on Global Issues

The Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures organizes a yearly conference on global issues, held in the spring. The conference brings together scholars and researchers from a variety of disciplines to address and assess specific global issues, issuing a call for papers in the fall on an announced topic. Proposals for papers, panels and workshops should be sent to Dr. Giuliana Fazzion, Head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures.


History Day

Each spring JMU hosts the regional competition for National History Day. The contest is open to students in grades six through 12, with categories including media presentations, performances and historical papers. Judging and comments are provided by professional historians. Winners at the state level participate in the National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland in June. For further information contact Dr. Steven Guerrier in the Department of History at (540) 568-6523.



The MadRush Undergraduate Research Conference features outstanding work by undergraduate humanities and social science majors. Held every spring, it attracts students from across the eastern United States and has become one of the largest humanities and social science undergraduate research conferences in the region.


Madison Writing Awards

Madison Writing Awards (MWA) is a university-wide competition that celebrates writing across the curriculum in all undergraduate academic programs. Each spring, students are recognized for their achievements in an awards ceremony and through the online publication of their work. These awards reflect the commitment of the School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication and the College of Arts and Letters to prepare students for educated and enlightened global citizenship.


Visiting Scholars Program

The Visiting Scholars Committee organizes campus visits during the year by 12-15 people who have made significant contributions in their fields. The scholars, who represent a wide variety of disciplines, expose students and faculty members to different perspectives and encourage intellectual exploration. During a visit, a scholar meets with at least one group of students in a class or informal setting and gives a public presentation and discussion of his/her work. For further information, contact Prof. Dietrich Maune at (540) 568-6472.