UC Berkeley international studies programs win $12 million in federal grants

October 10, 2022

More than $12 million in new federal grants will drive dramatic expansion of UC Berkeley programs focused on international and regional studies, with benefits for both students and scholars, campus leaders announced today.

The grants from the U.S. Department of Education will go to research centers and institutes specializing in the history, politics, economics, languages, cultures and societies of regions spanning the globe.

UC Berkeley students will benefit enormously from the new funding, which extends from 2022 to 2025. Students enrolled in courses connected to the regions of East Asia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Western Europe will be able to apply for prestigious fellowships to support their research and burnish their CVs. The funding will also lead to new programs to train K-14 teachers and to expand partnerships with other universities.

Chancellor Carol Christ"International and Area Studies are critical to UC Berkeley's leading position among the nation's universities,” said Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. "We are enthusiastic about new funding from the U.S. Department of Education that recognizes and supports innovative research and teaching at centers and institutes devoted to world areas. The goals of this federal program aligns perfectly with the 'teaching, research, and public service' mission of the University of California."

Drawing from a highly competitive nation-wide pool, reviewers awarded UC Berkeley centers and institutes top ratings for proposed programs to support teaching in less commonly taught languages and area studies, outreach and training for K-14 educators, research workshops and conferences, library collections, lecturer and graduate student professionalization, and student fellowships.

IFLE visit 2022The U.S. Department of Education last month sent a team of program staff to the campus for a site visit to the Berkeley area studies centers and institutes. "Area studies has a long and distinguished history at the University of California, Berkeley," said Brian Cwiek, a program officer at the Department of Education. "We were delighted to meet with accomplished faculty and lecturers, dedicated staff and talented students."

Six centers and institutes at UC Berkeley were successful in the U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers (NRC) and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships competitions announced in December 2021. These centers received both NRC and FLAS awards and have the distinction of being National Resource Centers for language and area studies. UC Berkeley has the most awards among universities in the Western United States.

  • The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) will receive $1,128,384 for the NRC (the largest award for a Latin America NRC) and $1,181,184 for FLAS. Founded in 1958, CLAS works to foster and support new ideas and research by bringing together scholars, artists and community members from Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States and the world.
  • The Institute for South Asia Studies (ISAS) will receive $1,015,380 for NRC and $990,400 for FLAS. The ISAS is the only South Asia Institute that is a National Resource Center and also houses a Center for Bangladesh Studies, a Center for Contemporary India, as well as interdisciplinary and cutting-edge initiatives on Pakistan, Nepal and the Himalayas, South Asian art, Rabindranath Tagore and climate change.
  • The Center for Southeast Asia Studies (CSEAS) will receive $1,054,036 for NRC and $1,257,496 for FLAS. CSEAS is a consortium National Resource Center with UCLA’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. The two centers work together to promote Southeast Asian Studies in the state of California, most directly through speaker series, workshops and conferences. They also support innovative initiatives such as distance-learning language instruction in Khmer and Burmese.
  • The Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) will receive $1,066,340 for NRC and $982,108 for FLAS. With NRC support over the next four years, Berkeley will become one of the few centers in the U.S. offering comprehensive training in all of the major languages and societies of East Asia. By 2026, IEAS expects to substantially expand its contribution to the national supply of experts in East Asia, with increased representation from groups who have not traditionally studied the region.
  • The Institute of European Studies (IES) will receive $1,048,752 for NRC and $980,448 for FLAS. IES is the only research institute in the nation with the distinction of being an NRC, a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence, a founding Center of Excellence in German and European Studies and a Center of Excellence in French and Francophone studies.
  • The Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES) will receive $1,066,476 for NRC and $1,156,300 for FLAS. NRC funds support the teaching of Armenian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. In addition, ISEEES, in collaboration with the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Stanford University, will provide NRC funding to expand the Russian studies program at Howard University, the only historically Black college or university to offer Russian language courses. These additional courses in history, political science and Russian language, literature, and culture, will be the foundation for a minor in Russian Studies — a first at Howard.

"What drives excellence in international and area studies is collaboration crossing boundaries that might divide disciplines and communities," said Rosemary Joyce, director of Global, International and Area Studies (GIAS) at UC Berkeley. "One example of how this new funding will build on the way campus area studies centers bring diverse participants together is the joint Summer Institutes for K-14 teachers offered by the UCB Office of Resources for International and Area Studies. Summer Institute topics such as 'Global Climate Change Beyond the Science Classroom' in 2023 and 'Envisioning the Future: Speculative Fiction from Around the World,' can now be realized with participation from a wide range of fields and area studies specialists."

Berkeley students said that the international studies programs have been crucial to their learning and careers.

Nicole RamseyBen DericoQinyang Zhou

Left to right: Students Nicole Ramsey, Benjamin Derico, and Qinyang Zhou.

The Center for Latin American Studies "has played a significant role in my graduate studies," said Nicole Denise Ramsey, a student of the Garifuna language in Belize and now a postdoc at the University of Virginia. "As I began to write my dissertation, I was awarded a FLAS fellowship that supported my fieldwork in Belize. I am thankful not only for the generous financial support but the overall support of my work and belief in me as a scholar doing work on Latin America and the Caribbean."

Benjamin Derico, now a video journalist at BBC, said the funding from the Institute for European Studies has been crucial to his growth. "Without my fellowship from IES," Derico said, “I wouldn't have been able to complete my degree or find the job I got after graduation as a video journalist for the BBC, filing stories around the U.S. and Latin America in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Without the intensive classes I had from FLAS and the funding to get additional support in Portugal, I wouldn't have been able to complete that job."

"I am so grateful to Institute for East Asian Studies for awarding me the FLAS fellowship twice — that funded two summer semesters of intensive Korean language studies at Middlebury College," said Berkeley Ph.D. student Qinyang Freya Zhou. "Thanks to the generous financial support, not only did my Korean improve tremendously, but I also fell in love with Korean culture. The positive experience I had prompted me to choose Korean Studies topics for my dissertation and future academic career."