Florida Atlantic University recently received an Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance the university's Asian studies curriculum.
The grant, consisting of $200,000 over two years, will strengthen FAU's Asian studies certificate program and increase faculty in Asian studies. FAU's Asian studies program encompasses East, South and West Asia, and the Middle East.
The grant will be used by FAU's Asian Studies Certificate program, the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature, and the Office of International Programs.
The grant will allow FAU's department of languages and linguistics to offer classes in Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. The department will also offer a series of six new interdisciplinary courses on Asian studies and update six existing course offerings.
To facilitate these course enhancements, department officials said they will expand faculty expertise in Asian studies with a series of faculty development activities, including an annual faculty development seminar, three faculty research awards each year and an annual teacher workshop on aspects of Asian studies. Two new faculty members for Chinese and Arabic will be hired on a permanent basis as of 2012.
FAU's Office of International Programs will use grant money to expand study abroad and student exchange opportunities in selected locations in East, South and West Asia.
"We are very excited about this development," said Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. "This federal grant could not have come at a better time because it will help the College build faculty and the programs that enhance our students' understanding of the vast region of Asia that includes the Middle East. In addition, this is a boost to the proposed Institute for Middle East Studies because in addition to offering courses in Hebrew, the College will now prepare students who are interested in learning Arabic. Proficiency in languages is the key to understanding other cultures and also to finding jobs globally."
Over one fifth of the world's population, or over one billion people, speak some form of Chinese as their native language. Arabic is spoken by approximately 280 million people. Furthermore, three of the world's largest nations, China, India and Indonesia, are in Asia.
"This grant will give us increased expertise among faculty and students across FAU colleges on this strategically important nexus of world regions," said Michael Horswell, chair of the department of languages, linguistics, and comparative literature. "Our graduates will be better prepared to meet the challenges of living and working in a globalized society in which language proficiency and cross-cultural competency in Arabic and Chinese are becoming increasingly important."