UI gets funds for international programs

URBANA – The U.S. Department of Education has designated several of the University of Illinois regional studies programs as national resource centers, meaning more than $13 million will go to support the centers.

The designation of national resource center brings not only prestige to the UI's seven centers, which focus on different regions of the world, but significant money.

"We're proud having placed so many centers. The campus has a deep commitment to being a global campus," said Jesse Delia, executive director of international research and interim provost for international programs. "It signals to the academic world, to international policy think tanks and other governmental leaders our leadership in these areas," he said.

The UI has seven international studies programs that focus on various regions around the world.

They include the Center for African Studies, Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, European Union Center, Center for Global Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Russian East European and Eurasian Center.

Each center has affiliate faculty members who come from a variety of departments but who are all connected by their interest in the particular center's focus, such as the Middle East or Latin America.

The money "provides the grounding for substantial research and instructional and outreach projects," Delia said.

That includes fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students, policy research projects, international travel, conferences, workshops and outreach activities. Outreach projects often include working with elementary and high school teachers.

"They also maintain the vitality of the wide array of language education that we could not support without them," Delia said.

For example, the UI not only offers French, German and Spanish but lesser-known languages such as Farsi, a Persian language, and Wolof, an African language.

The national resource centers are selected through a peer review process conducted on a four-year cycle.

"It has evolved to be the gold standard for evaluating the vitality and health of a university in an area. It just demonstrates that Illinois is among the premiere institutions in the world in leading the understanding of global issues," he added.

Since the last review cycle, the UI has added two more centers. They include the Center for East Asia and Pacific Studies and the Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

More information on the UI's international programs and studies is available at www.ips.uiuc.edu.

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