The Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literacy at the University of Arizona have been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Education for four years of funding, totaling more than $2.5 million. The grants establish the UA as a leader in foreign language instruction and Middle Eastern studies.
According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the grants are designed to "strengthen the capacity and performance of American education in foreign languages, international and area studies, teacher preparation, and international business education." They are funded under five programs authorized by Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The UA received grants under three of the five programs.
CMES, which is housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was named a Title VI National Resource Center, or NRC. These centers are funded to provide research and instruction in foreign languages and international studies, as well as outreach to secondary and elementary schools and to the wider community. CMES also received funds for Foreign Language and Area Studies, or FLAS, fellowships.
CERCLL, housed in the College of Humanities, was named a Title VI Language Resource Center. These centers are funded to develop resources for the teaching and learning of foreign languages at K-16 levels across the U.S. and to promote the learning of languages that are less commonly taught.
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
The UA's Center for Middle Eastern Studies is one of 15 Middle East centers nationally to receive NRC funding and one of 13 to receive FLAS fellowship support in the new grant cycle. The UA has had a National Resource Center in Middle East studies since 1975, making it one of the longest consistently funded NRCs in Middle East studies in the country.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," said Anne Betteridge, director of CMES. "The Title VI National Resource grants are the gold standard in international studies. This is a hugely important form of national recognition, especially given the fact that 100 National Resource Centers representing all areas of the world were funded in this grant cycle, compared to 127 in 2010-13."
NRC funds support the mission of CMES to develop Middle East programs across the UA campus, train students in Middle Eastern languages, and provide outreach to K-12 schools and the community.
Betteridge said the NRC funds also will allow the SBS college to develop the classes "Environmental History of the Middle East" and "Minorities in the Middle East" (the latter taught in Arabic); to hire a new faculty member in environmental studies of the Middle East and North Africa; and to engage in new collaborations with colleagues in the UA College of Education, Cochise College and UA South to internationalize curricula.
The FLAS funds will allow CMES to award 11 academic-year awards to students during each of the four years, and to support intensive language study for at least five students each summer. UA undergraduate and graduate students in any discipline who study Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish can receive FLAS awards. Students also may petition to use the awards to study additional Middle Eastern languages, such as Berber and Kurdish.
"This was a particularly competitive year, and three existing Middle East centers lost their funding," said Scott Lucas, director of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, which houses CMES. "We are delighted that the UA remains among the elite universities that are National Resource Centers for Middle Eastern Studies and has secured FLAS fellowships for UA graduate and undergraduate students."
Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literary
Established in 2006, CERCLL is a collaborative effort among programs, departments and colleges at the UA and other institutions in the Southwest and beyond. Projects are led by UA faculty in the Colleges of Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Education. Additional partners include organizations on campus working in international education, including CMES, the Office of Global Initiatives and the Confucius Institute, as well as several of the 16 other Language Resource Centers around the U.S.
In the new grant cycle, CERCLL will work more closely with local educational institutions, including UA South and Pima Community College, to expand outreach to underserved and minority student populations.
"Global competencies are an ever-increasing imperative for our students, so we are excited to embrace this priority from the Department of Education, in order to make quality foreign language education accessible to a greater number of students in southern Arizona and beyond," said CERCLL co-director Chantelle Warner.
Ten projects will be funded by the grant, including the creation of teacher manuals for developing second- language literacy through digital gaming and the development of a digital archive of authentic interactions between Chinese-language learners and their peers during study abroad.
CERCLL will continue to offer outreach activities for K-16 educators to enable them to better integrate a range of linguistic and culture perspectives into their classrooms. The center's biennial Intercultural Competence Conference, which draws scholars and teachers from all over the world, will continue with fifth and sixth iterations in 2016 and 2018.
This fall, CERCLL hosted the first hybrid symposium on digital literacies in the second-language classroom. Based on the high levels of interest, two more events are planned for the new grant cycle.
"With only 16 National Language Resource Centers nationwide, CERCLL is a central hub for foreign language education in the Southwest and a force of innovation across the country," said CERCLL co-director Beatrice Dupuy. "This award is certainly also a testament to UA's strengths in second-language learning and teaching. We look forward to continuing to foster and contribute to the great work that is being done here."