BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the U.S. Department of Defense, will fund a new "Language Roadmap" for the state of Indiana through Indiana University. The two-year project will be administered through the IU School of Global and International Studies' Center for the Study of Global Change.
The goal of the Language Roadmap is to create a plan that will improve quality, increase access, enhance and diversify opportunities, ensure equity, and strengthen the statewide infrastructure to support and expand world language learning. The plan will be collectively developed, with input from business, government, health care and education sectors from across Indiana, to reflect the economic and educational needs and resources of a diverse and globally engaged state. It will address the entire education pipeline, from pre-K to higher education as well as workforce development.
This statewide initiative recognizes the critical role of languages in today's interconnected world, where business, communities, education and careers are increasingly international, 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 IU School of Global and International Studies. The project will develop a statewide plan for strengthening language learning that recognizes how internationally engaged Indiana has become and how critical global understanding and multilingualism are for the state, Kahn said. The co-principal investigator for the Language Roadmap is Yea-Fen Chen, director of the IU Chinese Language Flagship.
The need for a comprehensive discussion of language learning in Indiana is widely recognized by educators and business leaders as the state prepares residents to be competitive in the global marketplace. The Business Roundtable found Indiana's 2014 exports totaled $38 billion in goods and $9 billion in services, with nearly 200 countries and territories buying from the state.
The Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business conducted a survey of Indiana businesses in 2015-16 in which more than 45 percent reported 10 percent or more revenue from international business. Forty-four percent of respondents indicated international sales are equaling or outpacing domestic sales. Sixty-three percent of the businesses surveyed said total sales would increase with staff possessing more international expertise, but that hiring U.S. residents with such skills was difficult.
"The Indiana Language Roadmap will clearly go a long way toward enhancing our state's ability to meet the social, economic and intellectual challenges of active and productive participation in today's global society," said Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies. "We are delighted to offer our support and leadership for this project."
The Indiana Language Roadmap initiative -- supported by a grant from The Language Flagship, administered by the Institute of International Education -- is intended to help Indiana citizens acquire language skills and certification needed for global careers. In addition to this funding, the project has commitments from prominent Indiana businesses. The Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's lead economic development agency, is also a key supporter.
"Indiana is home to more than 800 foreign-owned business establishments, which employ 170,800 Hoosiers," said Elaine Bedel, president of the IEDC. "The Language Roadmap will continue to take Indiana to the world and bring the world to Indiana, helping take our state to the next level by attracting new business and talent to Indiana."
Additionally, the project is working with the Indiana Department of Education, with participation from Global Learning and World Languages specialist Jill Woerner. Indiana state Rep. Robert Behning, the chairman of the House Education Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane have promoted the program at the state level, as have Sen. Greg Taylor of Indianapolis and Sen. Mark Stoops of Bloomington. Indiana's U.S. senators, Todd Young and Joe Donnelly, and U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth supported the application for federal funds.
By August, the Language Roadmap project will name nine regional leaders to represent all areas of the state. Regional meetings and workshops will take place in the fall. In January, stakeholders will attend a summit in Indianapolis to provide input that will go into creating the roadmap.
The final roadmap will be unveiled in 2018 and will be officially launched at a November 2018 summit. From February to May 2019, participants will be working on long-term implementation of the roadmap.
Indiana University has historically supported critical language instruction and area studies, particularly supporting instruction of less commonly taught languages. About 70 languages are taught at IU, more than at any other public university. IU and the School of Global and International Studies are home to three Language Flagship programs in Arabic, Chinese and Turkish, more than any other institution. The Center for the Study of Global Change is a national leader in global education outreach and research and is known for its collaborative and innovative approaches to educational internationalization.
Established in 2012, the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington promotes understanding of contemporary and global issues, informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. The school represents one of the nation's largest investments in global studies, with the addition of 25 new faculty members and the opening of its $50 million LEED-certified building, inaugurated by the U.S. secretary of state in 2015.