The University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies has received funding from the U.S. Department of Education for all eight of its Title VI centers — surpassing other institutions in both total grant award and number of centers.
Grants will total more than $16 million to be awarded over four years. As in the past, the funding will support the teaching and study of foreign countries and languages, with at least half of the funds used for fellowships for students studying other languages. The Jackson School expects to award between 110-140 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships each year of the grant for this purpose.
Funded under five programs authorized by Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965, these grants are designed to help the United States enhance its leadership role in world markets, global engagement and scholarship. Grants are awarded to institutions of higher education every four years to establish and strengthen language and area-studies centers for foreign language instruction, research in international studies and world affairs and community outreach and consultation.
“You talk about 50-plus years of funding for our centers and there is a certain expectation that comes with that,” says Kasaba. “With so many active centers in one campus, we are able to explore some of the most important problems of our world in an effective, interdisciplinary and cross-regional way.” For example, on Oct. 7 seven Jackson School faculty, who specialize in different regions of the world, participated in a roundtable discussion, “How to Make Sense of the World when the World is Coming Apart.”
The University of Washington was among the first universities to receive Title VI funding. The UW’s first award went to its East Asia Center (then known as the “Far Eastern Institute”), which has continued to receive funding in nearly all funding rounds over the past half-century. The initial award — $26,260 — was granted by the Department of Defense in 1959. The Title VI program moved to the Department of Education about a decade later.
“Over time, the focus moved away from the mission of learning about places that the U.S. is trying to defend itself from,” says Kasaba, “and has become more about engagement in the world and the establishment of ties with other regions.”
The second UW center to be funded was the Middle East Center, which has received continuous funding since 1974. The complete list of JSIS centers now receiving Title VI funding includes Canadian Studies; Global Studies; West European Studies; East Asia Center; Russia, East Europe, and Central Asian Studies; Middle East Center; South Asia Center; and Southeast Asia Center.
“In a lot of other places, these sorts of centers float, with no home department,” says Kasaba. “Here they are in the Jackson School, which I think is to their benefit. The School has a long history of commitment to international and area studies, which is something the Department of Education looks for.”
Outreach is another important component for Title VI centers, particularly outreach to K-12 teachers and students, which range from weekend seminars to international tours. Earlier this month, three Title VI centers sponsored the 2014 “Security and the New Europe” workshop, which centered on developments in European security, such as the re-emergence of Russia as a regional power, the crisis in Ukraine, and the strategic relevance of the Baltic Sea.
Of course the need for global awareness doesn’t end with high school graduation. Some funds are set aside for the development of UW courses with an international perspective, in disciplines ranging from political science to environmental studies to art history. “This is a good way of encouraging faculty to teach in this area who wouldn’t otherwise,” says Kasaba, who offers the example of the Canadian Studies Center, which has developed courses with faculty in the College of the Environment for students to study the increasingly complex politics among countries that border the Arctic.
The Jackson School is increasingly looking for ways to share its expertise in area studies with members of the policy and business communities. It recently received a grant of $1 million from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to establish a new International Policy Institute. The institute will allow faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to collaborate with policymakers and other stakeholders in business and civil society.
“These two grants will be of tremendous help in connecting our students to the world, through these language fellowships and UW courses, as well as through globally oriented agencies in our region through the new International Policy Institute,” Kasaba said. “I cannot imagine a better preparation for our graduates as they get ready to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.”
– Kristina C. Bowman, firstname.lastname@example.org