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Language Roadmap sets a course for strengthening Indiana’s international identity

For Immediate Release Jul 25, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Center for the Study of Global Change at the Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies recently published the Indiana Language Roadmap, a plan to strengthen cross-cultural and language skills across the state’s citizenry and workforce.

A student writes a foreign language on a chalkboard
IU and the Hamilton Lugar School offer more than 80 world languages and are home to four Language Flagship programs in Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Turkish.

The Indiana Language Roadmap – supported by a two-year grant from The Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the U.S. Department of Defense – will advance the infrastructure necessary for Indiana residents to acquire the language skills and training needed for global lives and careers. Led by Hilary Kahn, Yea-Fen Chen and Teresa Nichols at the Hamilton Lugar School, the roadmap relies on the expertise of a statewide network of individuals and organizations committed to advancing the international identity of Indiana for the economic, educational, social and overall well-being of the state.

“The Indiana Language Roadmap is at the center of our state’s longstanding commitment to global engagement,” said former Ambassador Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the Hamilton Lugar School. “It is an outstanding example of the ways in which the Hamilton Lugar School and Indiana University work to ensure students across the state develop the skills they need for fulfilling and successful careers in the global marketplace.”

The new plan provides Indiana stakeholders with common priorities and networks to achieve the mission of making high-quality world language instruction and global learning opportunities available, equitable and affordable to all Hoosiers. These priorities include:

  • Building a more purposeful educational pipeline to prepare Indiana residents for increasingly diverse and globally connected lives and careers.
  • Preparing an Indiana workforce that can engage globally, communicate across cultures and work alongside and provide services to diverse groups of people.
  • Building state connections to raise awareness, garner funds, advocate for and effectively implement the plan.
  • Engaging in a communications strategy that raises the profile of the roadmap priorities and goals and educates Indiana residents and others about the state’s global connections and communities.

As part of the plan, the Center for the Study of Global Change – a standard-bearer in global education outreach and research – will continue coordinating efforts to develop the infrastructure required to implement and sustain this important work. In conjunction with its partners, the center welcomes new opportunities for engagement and collaboration across the state.

Working groups have already organized the next steps for increasing state and national advocacy on these issues, supporting connections between education and business, creating a recognition campaign for global leaders in Indiana, applying for a locally created education pathway for high school students on global citizenship, and developing a public engagement toolkit to raise community awareness and connections. The initiative will begin accepting applications for additional community initiatives later in 2019.

Beginning in fall 2017, the initiative recruited individuals and organizations from diverse sectors and communities to develop a draft of the roadmap and discuss implementation of the plan. The initiative organized two statewide summits and a series of regional workshops in communities around the state, incorporating the experiences and perspectives of hundreds of stakeholders. A few notable summit speakers included Elaine Bedel, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.; State Rep. Bob Behning, chair of the Indiana House Committee on Education; and Danny Lopez, former chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.

Indiana University has historically supported critical language instruction and area studies. IU and the Hamilton Lugar School offer more than 80 world languages – the most of any public university – and are home to four Language Flagship programs in Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Turkish.

The Hamilton Lugar School at Indiana University is a national leader in area and international studies and promotes understanding of global issues informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. Named for revered Hoosier statesmen and foreign policy voices, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton and the late former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, the school is committed to creating leaders who celebrate differences and seek shared understanding.

What they’re saying

“The plan speaks to the importance of 21st-century skills and global competencies, as well as the concerns and opportunities found throughout Indiana’s rural and urban communities and other sectors,” said Hilary Kahn, principal investigator for the project, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change and assistant dean of international education and global initiatives at the Hamilton Lugar School. “The recommendations emphasize the importance of internationalizing the prekindergarten-to-career educational pipeline and advancing Indiana’s global identity through economic and workforce development.”

“Indiana is representative of the globalization that is occurring all across the U.S. And yet, our country still faces a major deficit in our ability to understand and work with other people around the planet because we cannot effectively communicate with them,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “Ours remains a major – if not “scandalous” – foreign language deficit at a time when markets are rapidly becoming more global, when interdependencies among countries are becoming greater, and when our national security challenges are becoming grander and more complex.”

“Language skills are vital to everything we do, not only in our schools but in our communities. Indiana is proud of our diversity, with over 291 languages spoken in our schools,” said Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. “The ability to communicate in multiple languages brings people closer together through an improved understanding of one another. As we look to prepare our students for a world that is continuing to become more connected, increased language skills will be a necessity to be successful in a global economy.”

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