OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
Current Section
International Education Programs Service

International Scholarship in Service to the Public

Archived Information

Many U.S. higher education institutions have found opportunities for enhancing student learning and faculty research through campus/community engagement. Innovative approaches to addressing identifiable community needs lead to proactive educational agendas that benefit both the college or university and the public. But during a budget crisis, colleges and universities are often compelled to retrench, focusing their energies on their core teaching and research missions. In such times, community engagement suffers.

One Federal agency safeguards the gains from such campus/community partnerships and expands them to the national level. Through several grant programs funded under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange (Fulbright-Hays) Act of 1961, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is helping to ensure continuous and increasing public access to international expertise at America's colleges and universities. It does this by sponsoring activities that harness the resources of the institution in support of initiatives that provide a direct educational benefit to others. The programs that most directly support external engagement include:

  • the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad program, which funds overseas collaborations involving faculty, students and teachers in support of regional and national curricular priorities;
  • the Title VI Business & International Education (BIE) program, which requires grantees to provide services that will expand the business community's capacity to engage in overseas commerce;
  • the Title VI Technological Innovation & Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) program, which requires widespread dissemination of collected information on world regions and countries other than the U.S.; and
  • three Title VI programs that establish centers of teaching, research and outreach excellence in international business, foreign language, area, and international studies: the Centers for International Business Education (CIBEs); the Language Resource Centers (LRCs); and the National Resource Centers (NRCs) (hereafter collectively referred to as "the Centers programs").

These funding opportunities have expanded international education outreach at U.S. universities. As competition for grants has grown, applicants' emphases have increasingly focused on identifying and meeting critical regional and national needs. The results have been more collaboration with off-campus partners; greater use of technology to reduce costs and reach larger audiences; and stronger field-wide organization.

While services to K-16 (elementary, secondary, and postsecondary) educators remain a mainstay of the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays efforts, the Centers are also reaching America's business community, media, and government groups. They are working with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). They are designing resources that are accessible to the visually- and hearing-impaired public. They are providing expert commentary on current events through local and national news programs, speaker bureaus and conferences. They are reaching out to heritage language speakers as well as rural and urban communities to expand their relevance to the diversity of America's citizens.

Serving Education Goals: Through professional development programs for educators, academic and extra-curricular programs for students, teaching resources, and joint curriculum-development initiatives, Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grantees are forging partnerships supporting a K-16 international education "pipeline." These collaborations are building blocks for national capacity in critical foreign language, area, and international studies.

In fiscal year 2002 alone, fifty-seven Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grants supported the initiatives of universities, state departments of education, and non-profit educational organizations. Advanced language training programs were provided for Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Filipino, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Russian, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Zulu, while non-language programs offered intensive study in Brazil, China, India, Morocco, Nepal, Senegal, and South Africa, among other countries.

Title VI-sponsored professional development opportunities for teachers vary in topic and approach. The UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and International Institute cosponsor a Teachers as Scholars program that reconnects teachers to the world of academia by fostering discussions with university professors. The University of Minnesota LRC holds annual summer institutes that have involved more than 1,200 educators in improving language teaching and learning. East Asian NRCs at Columbia University, the University of Kansas, Stanford and UCLA participate in the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia (NCTA), whose seminars and study tours, curricular resources and exchanges aide educators across the country in incorporating study of Asia into the curriculum.

Educators repeatedly express the vital necessity of these programs, which contribute to their professional growth and their students' success, their awareness of current events and an appreciation of cultural diversity.
-- Janet Headley, Director, Programs in International Education Resources, Yale Center for International and Area Studies

Responding to teachers' need for resources on current affairs, NRCs at the University of California, Berkeley co-sponsor teacher programs on Current Conflicts: Case Studies in the Muslim World. The Georgetown University Middle East NRC hosted an April 2003 workshop on "The Crisis With Iraq" for 140 teachers who, in their program evaluations, indicated that 15,425 students will benefit from their participation.

I just wanted to thank you and your organization for providing such a wonderful service to us. You…have made it so easy for us to come out, learn, and take in so much knowledge…If only more cultural groups were able to do the same, imagine how much more qualified our teachers would be in educating our children and erasing their ignorance of the world and its people.
-- participant's evaluation of the Georgetown NRC workshop, "Crisis With Iraq"

Title VI grantees offer educators the use of curricular guides, teaching materials, and testing instruments through Web sites and lending libraries. The TICFIA program specifically supports projects that employ innovative strategies for sharing information on world regions, such as the University of Chicago's "Digital South Asia Library." The Michigan State University LRC offers Web-based Business French, German and Spanish packets for advanced level high school language classes. The Latin American Resource Center at the Tulane University NRC is the largest, nationally-available, free lending library of audio-visual and curricular materials on Latin America.

Several Title VI activities target the expansion of international teaching at other postsecondary institutions. San Diego State University's CIBE coordinates a Community College International Business Working Group that facilitates training on curriculum development. The University of Florida African Studies NRC is an important resource for postsecondary faculty in the southeast, with Research Affiliate fellowships and travel/study programs to Africa, as well as targeted activities for community colleges and the Georgia State University System.

My campus is struggling to infuse Asian studies into our general education curriculum and to develop a small Asian Studies minor (the only such program in Arkansas), yet we do not have the lines available to hire the specialist faculty that we would like to. We consequently depend upon the good will of existing faculty - and the generosity of programs like yours - to help faculty who have specialized in non-Asian related fields to extend their reach. …I would not have known where to begin selecting texts for my units on India had it not been for the workshops that I have attended under [the] Center's auspices.
-- Raymond-Jean Frontain, Department of English, University of Central Arkansas, on outreach support provided by the University of Texas Center for Asian Studies

Partnerships With Business: In a global economy, the fortunes of U.S. businesses rise and fall based upon their ability to succeed in the international market. For this reason, ED grant programs encourage partnerships between international educators and businesses. While LRC projects support business language instruction, the CIBEs, NRCs, and Business & International Education (BIE) grantees engage in direct outreach to non-education professions by providing training programs, diagnostic tools, consulting services, and research studies.

With BIE funding, Hinds Community College in Mississippi held two conferences providing small to medium-sized businesses in that region with market research and access to experts on the Asian market. Muskegon Community College in Michigan developed an international export trade certificate program. Texas Tech University developed an "Interactive Educating to Export" course for small businesses across Texas.

All CIBEs offer executive education programs, such as Duke University's Executive Students-in-Residence program that enables business executives to take international elective courses without having to enroll in the MBA. The Georgia Institute of Technology is planning an annual seminar on best global practices in the paper and pulp industry. The University of Wisconsin-Madison enhances biotech workers' international skills, awareness and expertise through workshops, industry research and short-term study tours.

Title VI grantees also provide educational assistance to healthcare and law professions. The University of South Dakota used a BIE grant to help internationalize regional healthcare organizations by providing a healthcare trade-study tour, faculty and student speakers on international topics, and a specialized informational Web page. For legal professionals, the University of California, Berkeley's Eastern Europe NRC is developing a series of lectures and a publication on East European law and legal issues.

Outreach to Media: While most centers receive and respond to frequent media requests for information specific to their world areas, several also sponsor workshops on global reporting. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign CIBE holds a five-day Global Business Reporting Summer Institute for journalists and journalism faculty. Through their consortial NRC, the University of Florida and Florida International University host an annual Journalists & Editors Workshop bringing together media, government and academia in discussions examining critical issues facing Latin America and the Caribbean.

Supporting Government Expertise: Center program directors and affiliated faculty serve as consultants, advisors and presenters to state and federal government agencies on international matters. For example, the Indiana University Russian & East European Institute (REEI) annually staffs an information booth at the Defense Language Institute fair and consults with instructors from the U.S. Army's critical language program. Documentary videos on the Balkan conflict from that NRC's lending library were recently incorporated into US National Guard training programs prior to deployment to Bosnia. In September 2002, REEI was awarded a U.S. Army Challenge Coin in recognition of its contribution to the preparation of a guard unit from Pennsylvania.

Reaching the General Public: Centers sponsor public lectures, film series, exhibits, and cultural festivals to heighten Americans' awareness of other parts of the world. Those located in sparsely-populated regions are often the primary source of educational programming on international issues available to their communities. The University of Utah's Middle East NRC maintains an Outreach Program Resource Room containing over 200 videos, books, realia, and slide sets dealing with a broad range of Middle Eastern topics. Together with a speakers' bureau, this popular attraction has been used extensively by senior citizen centers, community groups, Hill Air Force Base, and other organizations.

The centers are expanding their reach to a national audience through Web-based resources such as SEAsite, a Web site developed by Northern Illinois University's Southeast Asia NRC; SEAsite features language and culture learning resources for students of all ages (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/). The University of Kansas CIBE sponsors the International Business Resource Connection, a Web site incorporating business resources, trade leads, a Midwest Trade Database, and cultural analyses of different countries.

In their role as information centers, Title VI centers receive and respond to public inquiries pertaining to their centers' focus. For instance, the LRCs frequently field questions about languages posed by non-language specialists. A sampling of questions and their answers is published by the National Capital Language Resource Center in its on-line newsletter column, "Ask Dora: Answers to Your Questions on Languages."

Many centers provide outreach programs for ethnic communities. These programs serve not only the target audiences, but the sponsoring universities and the nation, because they potentially attract and recruit talented students who can attain advanced proficiency in critical languages. The UCLA Near East NRC sponsors an outreach effort to recruit Iranian-American high school seniors to enroll in intensive Persian summer language courses especially designed to advance the skills of heritage speakers. A University of Washington Western Europe NRC partnership with the heritage organization, "Hellenes of the Northwest," has reinforced interest in the university's Hellenic Studies program, resulting in heavily-enrolled language and history courses.

Partnerships with museums are natural extensions of campuses' community engagement. In fall 2002, the NRC for Near Eastern Studies at New York University and the Grey Art Gallery co-sponsored the first major scholarly exhibition of contemporary Iranian art in the U.S. since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. In 2003, the University of Michigan Russian & East European Studies NRC is working with the campus Museum of Art to sponsor an exhibition from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Cornell University NRCs collaborate with the Johnson Museum of Art on projects designed to enrich the K-12 curriculum through object-based learning. Similarly, the Syracuse University South Asia NRC continues to work with both their on-campus museum and the Open Hand International Mask and Puppet Museum in Syracuse, NY to develop and sponsor exhibitions; a recent exhibition on Indian folk art forms was visited by 2,000 school children.

The exhibition provided a series of extraordinary opportunities for research, learning, and teaching.
...Undergraduate and graduate students were presented with a chance to develop an exhibition and in so doing they not only served the public, but broadened and deepened skills they can take into the job market. Objects that have long been in storage were made available. And, the University was able to serve the region in ways it has not been able to, but should on a regular basis.

-- Edward Aiken, Director of the Lowe Gallery, on the 2002 NRC-sponsored exhibition, "Under the Banyan Tree: Ritual, Remembrance and Storytelling in North Indian Folk Arts"

Special Focus on Underrepresented Groups: Several Title VI grantees sponsor programs supporting individuals from and organizations serving traditionally underrepresented groups. Eight CIBES have partnered with the Title VI Institute for International Public Policy and several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to establish a three-year, lock-step program to internationalize business education at the HBCUs. The Garvin School of International Management (Thunderbird) CIBE's Hispanic Schools Initiative supports schools and universities with high Hispanic student enrollment through seminar scholarships, international business program evaluations, and advising and assisting in locating school partnerships in Latin America.

Consortial Slavic and East European NRCs and LRCs at Duke University and the University of North Carolina have made a concerted effort to ensure their programs' accessibility to the visually and hearing impaired. A visually-impaired faculty member is involved in both centers' programs and care has been taken in designing their Web sites and materials, earning high scores on JAWS testing (one of the tools used to test sites for accessibility). They have also developed innovative less-commonly-taught language dictionaries with full auditory capacity.

Grantees are also searching for new ways to share their resources with educators and students in underserved urban and rural settings. The CIBEs at Brigham Young University and the University of Colorado have established the Rocky Mountain CIBER Network to expand outreach resources to smaller rural colleges, while the University of Oregon LRC sponsors the "Connecting Rural Teachers through Technology" project. The CIBE and East Asian Studies NRC at the University of Southern California co-sponsor the Center for Active Learning in International Studies, providing professional development training to K-12 teachers from 24 schools in Los Angeles, including 22 schools that are designated as low performing.

Tapping Into the Network: These examples provide a glimpse into the range of outreach programs offered by the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grantees to their regions and the nation. Yet they represent only a small number of those grantees' many offerings. A number of Web sites allow for a deeper understanding of the individual grantees' work and access to their rich resources. For instance, information about Business & International Education and Group Projects Abroad grantees is posted on the ED Web site, at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/iegps/index.html. The LRCs' joint Web site, with links, general program information, and performance indicators for LRC activities, can be reached at http://nflrc.msu.edu/. NRC abstracts organized by world area and a list of current grantees complete with Web addresses can be found at (http://www.ed.gov/programs/iegpsnrc/index.html). Additionally, several outreach professionals have developed a dynamic, national outreach Web site, Outreach World, which highlights the K-12 programs and materials developed by the Title VI centers. Outreach World provides exemplary instructional units and a national calendar of K-12 activities sponsored annually, as well as contact information, best practices, and valuable links to the centers and their resources. It can be reached at http://www.outreachworld.org.



Last Modified: 01/21/2011