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U. of I. regional studies programs named National Resource Centers

Melissa Mitchell, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received the unusual distinction of having all of its campus international regional studies programs receive designation by the U.S. Department of Education as National Resource Centers.

Each NRC receives grant support for its activities; total Department of Education support to the U. of I. for its international studies programs will exceed $13 million for the upcoming four-year funding cycle. The newly announced awards of $12,238,052 for the resource centers and related Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships follow the award last year of $1,324,000 to the U. of I.’s Center for International Business Education and Research.

Competition for the NRC grants is intense. Only 142 centers were funded nationally across all international studies fields. The U. of I. was one of 12 universities achieving NRC status for more than four international studies centers. With seven centers gaining NRC status, the U. of I. is tied for third with the University of California at Berkeley and Indiana University at Bloomington, behind the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Washington. Eight centers at Wisconsin and at Washington received NRC funding.

The awards were made following peer reviews of proposals that assessed excellence in several categories, including international curriculum and foreign language programs, faculty members and other personnel, international outreach programs, library collections and institutional commitment to international education and research initiatives.

The grants are a primary funding source for the units receiving them and are used for a wide range of purposes, including teacher training, promoting undergraduate foreign language learning, initiating new courses and implementing innovative international programming.

Each year, for example, the resource centers at Illinois sponsor a joint symposium on an issue of global concern. Recent past symposia have focused on water resources and human trafficking.

In addition to the NRC grants, each center also will receive funding under the FLAS program. Those funds will provide fellowships for graduate and professional students working on projects that include a significant foreign language component.

“NRC designation is the gold standard in rankings of international programs, and the outcome speaks directly to the vitality of our international programs and the leadership nationally and globally of the Illinois faculty in international fields,” said Jesse Delia, the U. of I.’s executive director of International Research Relations and interim associate provost for international affairs. “We are broadly engaged as a campus in deepening understanding of international issues and extending international partnerships supporting education and research, and are gratified that our leadership in international studies is being recognized and competitively supported.”

U. of I. units receiving NRC and FLAS funding, and their respective grant amounts:

Center for African Studies, $966,436, plus $1,210,000, FLAS

Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, $921,576 plus $752,000, FLAS

European Union Center, $827,428 plus $536,000, FLAS

Center for Global Studies, $837,576 plus $644,000, FLAS

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, $911,624 plus $1,452,000 FLAS

Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, $700,220 plus $700,000, FLAS

Russian East European and Eurasian Center, $893,192 plus $886,000, FLAS