Six UC Berkeley international studies programs received more than $12 million in federal funding which will support their expansion.
UC Berkeley competed with other programs across the United States to receive the four-year grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI National Resource Centers, or NRC, and Foreign Language and Area Studies, or FLAS, Fellowships competitions.
The campus’s six centers — the Center for Latin American Studies, Institute for South Asia Studies, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, the Institute of European Studies and the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies — each received about $2 million of federal funding, with half coming from the NRC and the other half from FLAS.
“The National Resource Center program really originated in the aftermath of World War II and the onset of the Cold War where the U.S. Department of Education and Congress, they really wanted to invest in international area studies knowledge and foreign language expertise in the country,” said Akasemi Newsome, associate director of campus’s Global, International and Area Studies.
The Center for Latin American Studies, or CLAS, was awarded around $2.3 million total — including the largest award for a Latin America NRC — according to a campus press release. The grants will fund everything from the Indigenous language program to campus events and the support of surrounding communities, according to CLAS vice chair Julia Byrd.
For the Institute of East Asian Studies, or IEAS, the grants will go towards program funding for their centers, library and departments, including two tracks of Cantonese and one track of Taiwanese, according to IEAS associate director Dylan Davis. The FLAS funding in particular will provide graduate students around $38,000 per student per academic year and $7,500 for summer programs to support their studies, Davis noted.
“It provides a national kind of resource for the region in a time when area studies funding is not as strong as it had been in the past,” Davis said. “This is providing funding and filling a critical gap.”
Since campus’s Center of Southeast Asia Studies, or CSEAS, is a consortium with UCLA’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies, it will share its funds with UCLA to support joint projects, individual campus programs and graduate student fellowships, according to CSEAS vice chair Sarah Maxim. Maxim noted that UC Berkeley was among the five Southeast Asian centers in the nation to receive the grant.
Newsome noted the importance of the funds in not only helping recruit graduate students domestically and internationally, but also in helping K-12 teachers and community college lecturers learn from campus’s work in international studies.
“The outreach component really is something special and something important that departments aren’t doing — and that’s also not their task — but with this funding from the U.S. Department of Education, it is a priority for them, and it’s really beneficial for the greater community,” Newsome said.