Aug. 14, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 20

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    Area centers receive grant for three years of funding

    By William Harms
    News Office

    This fall, the University’s five area studies centers will receive over $2.36 million in the first year of a new three-year cycle of federal funding. The University has received more than $7 million to support the teaching and research work of its five area centers over the next three years.

    “The University is center of excellence for international studies, as attested to by federal support of our area centers,” said Kathleen Morrison, Associate Professor in Anthropology and the College, who was appointed Director of the Center for International Studies last month.

    “This funding helps us to support critical foreign language training programs as well as research and public outreach activities; these awards are a testament to the outstanding work of our faculty and students and to the continued backing of international programs by the University. In today’s world, international and cross-cultural education is more important than ever.”

    The funds, from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies programs, support graduate student fellowships, instruction in less commonly taught modern foreign languages, conferences on area-related topics, outreach programs, faculty travel and other international and area programming at the University.

    All of the University’s area centers-the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the South Asian Language and Area Center-received funds for graduate Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships.

    Four of the centers received additional funding for language and area programming and designation as National Resource Centers, with a mandate to provide “instruction in fields needed to provide full understanding of areas, regions or countries; research and training in international studies; work in the language aspects of professional and other fields of study; and instruction and research on issues in world affairs.” Those centers are the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the South Asian Language and Area Center.

    The research and teaching work in these area studies centers will continue, and important new initiatives will be undertaken.

    At the Center for East Asian Studies, for example, in addition to ongoing support for the library, language teaching, and graduate and faculty research fellowships, the Korean Studies program will bring visiting Korean scholars to campus as a result of the NRC grant.

    The center also intends to begin an East Asian cinema and media studies program that could lead eventually to a new Ph.D. program. The center also has received a collection of 83 Taiwanese films and intends to hold a Taiwanese film festival in the fall, said James Ketelaar, Professor in History and East Asian Languages & Civilization and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies.

    The Center for Latin American Studies will use the funds to expand language instruction and develop pedagogical resources for the teaching of Mesoamerican indigenous languages and Aymara, an indigenous language of South America. The funds also will support conferences on democracy in Colombia, poverty and inequality in Latin America, colonial literature, and, with other area centers and the Human Rights Program, a 2004 summer institute for kindergarten- through 12th-grade teachers on political dissidence, said Dain Borges, Associate Professor in History and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies.

    The Center for Middle Eastern Studies will use its funds to continue outreach programs to kindergarten- through 12th-grade students and teachers, the general public, the business community and the government sector. Additionally, the grant will support course development work for a new class on women in Asia. The funding also will support the visits of regional experts on national security in the Middle East, who will lecture in an arrangement with the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, said Rusty Rook, Assistant Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

    The South Asian Language and Area Center will expand teaching to include two South Asian languages, Marathi and Telugu. The center also will broaden its work with the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and with the Center for East Asian Studies by bringing speakers to Chicago for presentations. Additionally, the center will provide wider access to its language resources via the Web by offering teaching materials, dictionaries and grammars, said James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia at the University Library and Director of the South Asian Language and Area Center.