Undergraduate International Studies & Foreign Language (UISFL) Grant

In October of 2016, WIU was awarded a $407,463 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support innovative study abroad and international learning opportunities for faculty and students at Western Illinois University's Macomb campus, Spoon River College (Canton, IL) and abroad. WIU faculty and staff were notified of the award for the  Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language  (UISFL) Grant that is now allowing them to implement the proposed project, "Communities as Agents: Language and Area Studies for a Sustainable Future."

According to Grant Director, Gloria Delany-Barmann, bilingual/bicultural professor in WIU's  Educational Studies department , the grant will support the "Communities as Agents" project for the next three years. "We requested the funds over this time frame to develop, implement and assess an academic project that will strengthen and integrate international perspectives and provide opportunities for students and faculty," Delany-Barmann said. Twenty-four other educational institutions nationwide were recipients of the UISFL Grant. 

Project Co-Directors, Pedro Bidegaray, director of WIU's Study Abroad and Outreach office, & Heather McIlvaine-Newsad,  anthropology  professor, composed the grant application with Delany-Barmann.  One of the project's main objectives is to expand and enhance study abroad opportunities in Latin America, where students can engage deeply in the Spanish language and Latin American cultures, while implementing discipline-based knowledge. Other project goals include: expansion of language training; development of partnerships with community-based organizations abroad, through which students can complete internships and experiential learning opportunities; and creation of faculty development opportunities to support and enhance area and regional studies. 

"The funds will be used to enrich our curriculum with an international perspective. There is support for eight faculty members to participate every year of the project; the faculty members will each receive $3,000 for curriculum enhancement. There are also some additional funds for faculty to travel to Latin America, specifically Ecuador and Puerto Rico," Bidegaray explained. "Outcomes we would like to achieve for this particular objective include: to increase the number of WIU and SRC students studying in Latin America by 50 percent; creation of an internship initiative (the Western Illinois Global Corps); and improvement of intercultural competencies among students."  The grant funds will also support scholarships for 12 students each year who wish to study abroad and complete internships in those countries. Students from all majors are encouraged to apply for these scholarships, he added.

Additional outcomes of the project include the design and launch of an intensive language course for each year of the project, as well as three workshops a year for Spanish in the areas of "Public Health," "Business in a Global Context and "Teachers." These will be open to students from WIU and SRC, as well as to the community. WIU  Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures  Associate Professor Guada Cabedo Timmons,  WIU Department of Health Sciences and Social Work  Professor Fetene Gebrewold and Delany-Barmann will conduct thee workshops. 

For more information, contact Delany-Barmann at GA-Delany-Barmann@wiu.edu; Bidegaray at PE-Bidegaray@wiu.edu or McIlvaine-Newsad at H-McIlvaine-Newsad@wiu.edu.

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