The University of Utah, in partnership with Brigham Young University, has been awarded $7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to support international education and language study over the next four years. The Title VI National Resource Center and Foreign Language and Area Studies grants will provide funding directly to the Center for Latin American Studies, Asia Center and their BYU counterparts and will earmark $4.5 million for student scholarships. This is the fourth time the Asia Center has been awarded these four-year grants and the third time for the Center for Latin American Studies.
“Designation as a National Resource Center is a great honor and speaks to the excellence of our faculty, our broad and rich course offerings across the disciplines, and our outreach programming with partners like K-12 school districts, Salt Lake Community College and community organizations across the state and nation,” said Susie Porter, professor of history and director of the Center for Latin American Studies. “We are excited to continue this important work and to provide support to faculty, students and community members in their language and area studies pursuits.”
The Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarships will provide more than $600,000 each year for the next four years for undergraduate and graduate students at the U from all disciplines to study less commonly taught languages of Latin America and Asia. The funds typically cover full tuition plus a stipend and help ensure broader access to the university regardless of students’ financial needs.
“Cultural and language competencies are essential in our global world and these prestigious grants recognize the U as a national leader in these fields,” said Hollis Robbins, dean of the College of Humanities. “Our college, through the Center for Latin American Studies and the Asia Center, serves not only a critical role on campus and in the community, but globally, as well, as we support international student training and learning in many countries. This ensures the Title VI funds are felt far beyond the campus.”
With the contributions of faculty and resources in these centers—both housed in the College of Humanities and supported by the College of Social and Behavioral Science—Utah leads the nation in K-12 dual language immersion programs. Currently, there are more than 45,360 dual language K-12 students in 265 schools across Utah. Through the support of the U and BYU, these students, along with heritage language speakers, can enroll in a bridge program—university credit-bearing classes that serve as a pipeline to higher education. As these students enter the U or BYU, they receive robust upper-level language instruction (including five indigenous languages), area studies and access to Culture and Language Across the Curriculum—a credit-bearing program that pairs language skills with various non-language courses—to become fully bilingual and multilingual college graduates prepared to use their language skills in the professional world.
“Our centers, in particular our excellent faculty and staff, equip students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines with language proficiency and intercultural competencies for successful careers in areas of national need ranging from diplomacy to national security, global health, higher education and humanitarian work,” said Kim Korinek, professor of sociology and director of the Asia Center.
Internationally, the Center for Latin American Studies and the Asia Center fund and support many student activities. For example, the Center for Latin American Studies sends future nurses from the U to train in Latin American countries, including Guatemala where they learn from local midwives. Next summer, they will send students to Colombia to learn how nations address and heal from violent conflict. The Asia Center enriches international education opportunities through connections with partners across Asia. These include programming at the U Asia Campus in Incheon, South Korea, international exchanges and internships with universities in Thailand and Cambodia, and a collaborative online course and learning abroad on the legacies of the American/Vietnam War, co-taught by Korinek, history instructor Stormy Shepherd and faculty at Fulbright University Vietnam. The Asia Center also supports the study of languages and cultures that span East, South, Southeast, Central and West Asia, Russia and the Pacific.
About the Intermountain Consortium for Latin American Studies
The partnership between U’s Center for Latin American Studies and BYU’s Latin American Studies Program—known as the Intermountain Consortium for Latin American Studies—promotes language and area studies to enhance curricular offerings, professional training and local and national outreach. The consortium has 191 affiliated faculty and offers 227 language courses and 30 language degree programs. There are 1,951 students in the consortium pursuing 27 Latin American language degree programs and approximately 8,870 students enrolling in the language courses annually.
Intermountain Consortium for Asian and Pacific Studies
The partnership between the U’s Asia Center and BYU’s Asian Studies Program—known as the Intermountain Consortium for Asian and Pacific Studies—promotes language and area studies to enhance curricular offerings, professional training and local and national outreach. The consortium has 230 affiliated faculty and offers 305 language courses enrolling 6,868 students annually in 32 Asian language degree programs. The consortium currently has 1,384 students pursuing Asia-related majors, minors and certificates.