Global centers at IU promote national, state security by internationalizing education
Nov 16, 2023
Indiana University may be solidly landlocked in the middle of the United States, but it has served as a window to the world for its students and local communities for more than a century. Not only do these efforts produce globally engaged citizens and employees, but the international expertise fostered at IU contributes to national security.
IU has served as a window to the world for its students and local communities for more than a century. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University
A large portion of IU’s Title VI funding — $8.6 million awarded in 2023 — will go directly to students studying world languages and regions deemed critical to U.S. national security and economic interests.
In addition, the federal Title VI program has designated six centers in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies to serve the U.S. as National Resource Centers and two as National Language Resource Centers. These centers support U.S. university and K-12 educators, minority serving institutions, and indigenous and rural communities by offering educational programs and teaching resources, helping schools internationalize curricula, developing language textbooks, and more.
As the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education celebrate International Education Week this week, here’s a look at some of the recent ways IU’s Title VI centers have supported our state and nation.
Internationalization for administration
One of many projects powered by federal Title VI funding is IU’s Principals’ Academy on Internationalizing K-12 Schools. Hosting its fourth cohort this year, the project engages principals and administrators in yearlong professional development activities that help them internationalize schools through curriculum and pedagogy; create connections by leveraging diversity from schools and communities; expand world language learning; and promote global professional development of their teachers.
The Principals Academy on Internationalization engages principals and administrators in yearlong professional development activities that help them internationalize schools. Photo courtesy of the Center for the Study of Global Change
Participating principals work on projects that either expand the breadth and depth of an existing global project in their schools or that introduce a new form of global engagement. Some examples include a Global Citizenship Pilot Program that connects Indiana middle school students to Chinese middle-schoolers; a Global Grocery Experience that integrates the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and a program that incorporates global competencies into college- and career-readiness skills.
At the end of the Principals’ Academy, the participants visit the IU Bloomington campus to present their projects, connect with other principals in the program and learn about the many ways IU can help further global education in their schools.
Erika Tran, assistant principal at Skiles Test Elementary School in Indianapolis, has been working on a series of professional development opportunities to ensure that teachers include themes of global competence in their units of study.
“A key pillar in bilingual education is cultural competency, so joining this program is a way to share ideas to continue to expand opportunities for my students to grow their global awareness,” Tran said.
Helping the principals build networks amongst themselves and with representatives from IU’s Title VI centers is a major goal of the initiative, according to Vesna Dimitrieska, coordinator of Global Education Initiatives with the School of Education and the Hamilton Lugar School at IU Bloomington.
“Nurturing global readiness in our students nowadays is not a matter of choice but urgency,” she said. “The sooner we recognize this reality and work toward having more globally competent individuals and global citizens, the more transformative and meaningful students’ learning will become. Global learning is simply learning.”
Globalizing the workforce
Another initiative of the IU Center for the Study of Global Change and the Kelley School of Business’ Center for International Business & Education Research aims to globalize the Indiana workforce. The Global Employability Project works with other IU National Resource Centers, Ivy Tech Community College and Hoosier Hills Career Center to strengthen students’ workforce preparation through global competence and employability skills.
High school educators from around the state participate in a Global Employability Project workshop at Hoosier Hills Career Center. Photo courtesy of the Center for the Study of Global Change
Through this program, IU helped Ivy Tech develop its Global Workforce Skills Certificate, which requires students to complete 15 credit hours in business, education, agriculture, health care, communication, social science or humanities, and complete introduction and capstone courses. The project has also worked with educators at Hoosier Hills Career Center, a local technical program for high school students, to integrate global competencies into the curriculum.
“Automotive students may be learning about metric measurement versus the American measurement system in case they work with cars from Germany, or culinary students may be learning how to communicate with a supplier in a culturally appropriate way,” said Eli Konwest, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change.
Konwest said material covered in the Hoosier Hills workshops aligns with the state’s K-12 academic and employability standards. It also answers the call from Indiana businesses for globally ready employees. As part of its Title VI funding, the Global Employability Project surveyed businesses in the state and found that 64% of responding Indiana employers have international ties, and 63% prioritize candidates who understand intercultural communications and the global workplace.
According to Konwest, more than 1,000 companies across Indiana have foreign direct investment, with very few counties lacking some type of foreign investment. Combine this with the reality that Indiana ranks third among states for pharmaceutical exports and eighth for agriculture, and the fact that Indiana is home to large immigrant populations, and it becomes clear that global competency is not a choice but a necessity for Indiana’s workforce.
“Indiana — whether you are talking about downtown Indianapolis or rural counties — has always been an international place, and it will continue to be,” Konwest said.
Supporting national security
In addition to supporting U.S. schools, IU is a top producer of graduates proficient in languages that are critical to U.S. national security and economic interests. Through the Title VI program, $8.6 million in Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships will be awarded to IU students to study critical languages and world regions.
IU graduate and doctoral candidate Emily Stranger works at the U.S. Department of Defense, teaching them about regional culture, history, and political and social issues. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Lugar School
IU graduate and doctoral candidate Emily Stranger studied Azerbaijani, Sorani Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Arabic, Persian, Uzbek and Pahlavi/Middle Persian at IU. She now works at the U.S. Department of Defense, preparing U.S. soldiers for missions abroad by teaching them about regional culture, history, and political and social issues.
“The training I received at IU taught me how to synthesize information and find what is important when talking about a region,” Stranger said. “With my language skills, I can look at primary source material in Persian and Arabic, which is really helpful. The thing that shocked me coming into academia is the number of resources in Persian that could add something important to the conversation about different topics that have never been translated into English.”
Scholars who can translate source materials and contextualize them through deep regional knowledge are greatly valued. Stranger’s expertise in Central Eurasia and the Middle East led her to a new opportunity to serve as a resident scholar at the Modern War Institute at West Point.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there for people who have unique regional knowledge, especially in government,” Stranger said. “There are also a lot of jobs in international development.
“When I was applying to government jobs, I always got called back. If you specialize in one of these languages, you will get an interview. Your resume will not get lost in the pile.”