LAWRENCE — Four international area studies centers at the University of Kansas have been awarded more than $8 million in grant funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive Title VI program.
As one of 13 universities in the country to have four or more centers receive the highly sought-after Title VI grants, KU’s success expands upon its reputation as a hub for international activity in the Midwest.
The Title VI National Resource Centers program provides grants to establish, strengthen and operate centers throughout the United States that teach modern foreign languages, as well as provide instruction about the history and cultures of the region where the languages are used.
“This news confirms KU is a critical resource for the region as our civic and industry leaders strive to establish and expand international partnerships,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “We are helping ensure our research and scholarship have global impact and that we prepare students and other stakeholders to contribute in the global environment.”
As part of the grant application process, KU faculty and staff labored for months to create nationally competitive proposals for interdisciplinary programs of research, teaching and outreach.
“The selection of these proposals as winners in a very elite national competition, and the awarding of the national resource center designation, is a testament to the very high quality of international scholarship at the University of Kansas,” said Melissa Birch, director of the KU Institute for International & Global Engagement. “That all four centers won this designation is a tremendous boost to KU’s AAU (Association of American Universities) status.”
The four area studies centers to receive Title VI National Resource Centers designation:
- Kansas African Studies Center (KASC)
- Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS)
- Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
- Center for Russian, Eastern European & Eurasian Studies (CREES)
As a National Resource Center, these units will receive $3.8 million over the next four years. Additionally, the centers will receive an additional $4.3 million over four years to provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students through Foreign Language and Area Studies grants.
The National Resource Center grants will allow for new faculty hires, instruction in less commonly taught languages, course development, expanded study abroad opportunities, innovative events and workshops, and new partnerships with community colleges and minority-serving institutions.
The success in receiving the Title VI grants reaffirms KU’s long-standing commitment to international education and leadership in area studies. The awards bolster KU’s efforts to incorporate comprehensive institutional internationalization as a foundational principle in the Jayhawks Rising strategic plan.
“We are defining the future of the international research university here at KU, and I could not be more excited about the direction we are heading in,” said Charles Bankart, KU senior internationalization officer. “We have unprecedented support across KU’s leadership team, and as these federal grants attest, we not only have an extraordinary faculty at KU and group of center directors, but the full support of the federal government for our vision and plans moving forward.”
The federal grants follow several new initiatives at KU to better foster international engagement. Since the start of 2022, the Office of the Provost has:
- Launched the Institute for International & Global Engagement (KU-IIGE) as a new institutional umbrella for the area studies centers and as a platform for strategic community engagement and announced Melissa Birch as its director.
- Appointed Megan Greene, professor of history, as provost fellow to focus on internationalization through faculty engagement in teaching and research.
- Charles Bankart was named senior internationalization officer and will partner with academic and administrative leadership, KU-IIGE and the provost fellow to fully integrate internationalization into KU’s strategic planning efforts.
Among the KU-IIGE’s aims is improved alignment among KU’s area studies centers, and its creation was touted in the centers’ application for funding.