The U.S. Department of Education has awarded an Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL) grant to the University of Oregon’s Latin American Studies (LAS) program and the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies. The grant is part of a $1.5 million fund that was awarded to only 17 institutions across the country.
The $186,000 grant is for activities spread over two years which include development of new courses such as a study abroad seminar on “Human Rights in Guatemala,” a course on Brazil, and a post-study abroad seminar as well as enhancements for existing LAS and language courses.
The grant will also provide support to strengthen and regularize Portuguese instruction, funds to support student participation in the creation of an online dictionary for Zapotec (one of the indigenous languages of Mexico with 500,000 speakers), a summer institute for middle and high school teachers on “Understanding the Many Faces of Latin America through Art and History,” and a number of lectures, film series and symposia that will connect the University of Oregon with the wider Eugene and Oregon communities.
Professors Carlos Aguirre and Lynn Stephen, along with several other faculty and staff, wrote the proposal for the UO. Aguirre and Stephen are the project co-directors.
“The award is a very important recognition of the quality of our faculty as well as the institutional support we receive from the University of Oregon,” said Stephen, director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS). Founded in 2009, CLLAS is testament to the growing presence of Latin American expertise on campus. It is a knowledge center linking research, teaching, and community engagement.
“The presence of Latin American Studies on campus has been growing steadily for the past 15 years. We are an important presence on campus,” said Aguirre, director of the Latin American Studies Program. The program offers major and minor degrees and has more than doubled its faculty from 18 members to 42. Study abroad opportunities have also expanded.
Aguirre and Stephen view the new grant as an opportunity to further the UO’s internationalization agenda, to increase diversity on campus, and to consolidate the UO as a major center for the production and dissemination of knowledge about Latin America.
In the months to come, Aguirre and Stephen will work closely with different internal partners in the university to move their initiatives forward, including the College of Arts and Sciences; Wired Humanities Projects; Knight Library; the Office of the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education; the Office of International Affairs; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art; and others.
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) provided seed funding for LAS’ grant development and will provide funding to support grant administration as part of its newly established Global Studies Institute.