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U.S. Department of Education Grants put U’s Humanities Programs Among the Elite

August 4, 2010 — The University of Utah College of Humanities has been selected to receive a prestigious Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) Consortium grant for its Asia Center.

“This grant represents an ambitious agenda that will significantly enhance our students’ education as global citizens while fostering an array of international partnerships that establish our university as a primary resource for dealing with the cultural complexities of this essential region of the world,” said Robert D. Newman, dean of the College of Humanities and associate vice president for interdisciplinary studies. According to Newman, the college has recently expanded curricular offerings focused on Asia, including the addition of Hindi, Urdu, and Pashto language instruction. Additionally, the Center is currently working with several schools in the Salt Lake City School District to assist with developing Chinese language instruction curriculum for high school students.

This grant represents over $4.5 million over the next four years to support U of U faculty, students, research and community outreach activities. It creates a consortium with the Asian Studies Program at BYU as a partner. There are 125 NRCs currently funded in the United States but only a small handful of consortiums currently funded.

“The establishment of this new and expansive National Resource Center at the U is a stellar achievement,” said University of Utah President Michael K. Young. “The University’s Asia Center will now have a larger national footprint and the added funding means new, top faculty hires, curriculum development, research and cultural events.”

The U.S. Department of Education provides the funds to designate and operate National Resource Centers in international area studies. According to the agency’s Web site, the program provides grants to “establish, strengthen, and operate language and area or international studies centers that will be national resources for teaching any modern foreign language.”

The Department of Education award will provide over $4 million in funding over four years to create an Intermountain Consortium for Asian and Pacific Studies (IMCAPS). In addition to funding for infrastructure, community outreach and curriculum development, the National Resource Center consortium grant includes significant funding for students through the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships program. The FLAS program awards grants to provide academic year and summer fellowships to meritorious undergraduate and graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages or international studies. The FLAS fellowships add more than $1.3 million in student support over the next four years.

According to Janet Theiss, Director of the U’s Asia Center, over half of the grant funding will go to graduate and undergraduate scholarships for the study of Asian languages. This includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi-Urdu, Russian, Pashto, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian. The rest of the grant will fund teaching positions, staff support, study abroad development, faculty research, conferences and library acquisitions. In this four-year grant cycle IMCAPS will focus on four major themes for programmatic development: Applied Asian Studies: Asia in the Professions, Asian Health Issues in Global and Comparative Perspective, Islam in Asia, and Social Media and Popular Culture in Asia.