Institute's Centers Awarded $3.6 Million for Language and Area Studies Fellowships


Education Department's FLAS funds to support graduate students in 2006-10 through UCLA Latin American, Near Eastern, East Asian, and Southeast Asian studies centers. Asia Institute to increase number of awards.

FLAS fellowships have helped graduate students to acquire language skills for more sophisticated and more comparative theses and dissertations.

The Department of Education has awarded $3.6 million over four years to the UCLA International Institute's centers and programs to support language learning by graduate students. Together, four academic units at the Institute received $900,000 in U.S. Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for a twelve-month period beginning in Fall 2006 along with commitments for equivalent amounts for the succeeding three years, subject to annual congressional approval of the Department of Education Title VI budget. This year's decisions by the department affect the academic-year and summer sessions of 2006-10. The awards went to UCLA centers in Latin American, Near Eastern, and Southeast Asian studies and to the East Asian studies program of the Asia Institute.

Part of the Department of Education Title VI program that grew out of the National Defense Education Act in the 1960s, FLAS fellowships are earmarked for students enrolled in foreign language training at grantee institutions of higher learning as part of master's or doctoral degree programs in all disciplines, from economics to theater arts. Allocations continue to be affected by security concerns, and this year's largest UCLA awards went to centers focusing on the Middle East and Southeast Asia. A second stage of the 2006-10 Title VI awards is still ahead. In addition to the FLAS fellowships, Title VI funds several UCLA International Institute centers as National Resource Centers. The NRC awards are expected to be announced in June.

Students receiving FLAS money from grantee institutions such as UCLA must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must not be native speakers of the languages studied. However, so-called heritage speakers who learned a language other than English at home but who frequently lack advanced language skills may be eligible. Nominally, the funds are distributed in packets of $27,000 per student for academic year support, divided between a $15,000 living stipend and up to $12,000 for tuition and fees. This is an increase from last year's awards of $25,500. In practice, some teaching departments agree to pay the tuition and fees for their students, allowing the Department of Education funding to support a larger number of students. The awards to the centers also include a number of summer support packages, which total $6,500 each, divided between $2,500 for living expenses and up to $4,000 for tuition and fees.

According to the Department of Education website, "The goals of the fellowship program include: (1) to assist in the development of knowledge, resources, and trained personnel for modern foreign language and area/international studies; (2) to stimulate the attainment of foreign language acquisition and fluency; and (3) to develop a pool of international experts to meet national needs."

Following are summaries of awards to specific UCLA centers.

Latin American Center

The Latin American Center (LAC) has been awarded $162,000 per year for academic-year FLAS fellowships for the 2006-10 cycle, about seven fellowships. There is also an allocation for five summer awards for a further $32,500 per year. The entire allocation over the four years should total $778,000. The fellowships are open to both continuing and entering graduate students. Eligible languages are Portuguese, Quechua, and advanced Spanish.

LAC Assistant Director Claudia Salguero estimates that, with the assitance of UCLA departments, the academic-year funds will ultimately fund approximately twelve graduate students per year. In Latin American studies, she says, most if not all of UCLA's FLAS recipients in a given year will elect to study abroad, meeting certain Education Department requirements in order to do so.

Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies

The department set aside $243,000 in academic year FLAS fellowships and $39,000 in summer funds for distribution by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES). With comparable awards expected through 2010, the award will total $1,128,000, the largest this cycle for any single International Institute member.

Diane James, a senior staff member at CNES, anticipates that the Center will be able to support ten entering and continuing graduate students for the academic-year sessions. Eligible languages in Near Eastern studies at UCLA are Arabic, Armenian, Azeri, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. In the past, the funds have gone to students pursuing degrees in history, comparative literature, education, political science, art history, anthropology, and fields, including several covered by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Asia Institute

The Asia Institute and its affiliated centers received two FLAS allocations, one for its East Asian studies program and one for its Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS). The Asia Institute competes for FLAS fellowships in East Asian Studies as part of a joint consortium with USC.

The USC-UCLA East Asian Studies consortium will receive $363,000 annually for the next four years to support graduate students working to master Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. UCLA has the largest enrollments in these languages of any U.S. university, according to Clayton Dube, assistant director of the Asia Institute. UCLA's share of the consortium funds is $208,500 per year, or $834,000 for the four-year funding cycle. Of the annual funds, $189,000 is allocated to support academic-year study and $19,500 to support work in intensive summer language programs.

Dube explains that the East Asia award will allow UCLA to support twelve or thirteen degree candidates, up three from the previous cycle, and two to three summer students, up from one.

"FLAS awards have helped our students acquire the language skills essential for ground-breaking research. Two students supported by FLAS awards are completing their doctorates this spring and have accepted teaching positions at Dartmouth and Colorado State Universities. Earlier graduates supported by EA FLAS fellowships are now teaching at Harvard, Columbia, Pomona, McGill, Florida, Washington University in St. Louis, and a number of other universities and colleges," Dube says.

Center for Southeast Asian Studies

CSEAS also participates in the Department of Education Title VI program as part of a two-school consortium, in this case with UC Berkeley. For 2006-10, the consortium has received fourteen academic-year awards, up from twelve per year in the previous cycle. At the same time, UCLA's portion of the total award has increased to one-half, which means that CSEAS will control seven full academic-year awards, up from five. Because it shares costs with departments, the Center expects to fund at least ten students per year, up at least two from the previous cycle, according to CSEAS Assistant Director Barbara Gaerlan.

Gaerlan says that there is an increasing need for these fellowships, as even the best graduate students struggle to find and secure money for advanced work. In several cases, she observes, FLAS fellowships have permitted students to broaden their thesis and dissertation topics, resulting in more sophisticated and more comparative studies.

Including $26,000 for summer students, the UCLA portion of the annual award is $215,000, or $860,000 over four years. The largest FLAS award to date for CSEAS, this matches the Center's request to the Education Department. As in previous years, Gaerlan explains, the UCB-UCLA consortium expects to send all of its summer FLAS money to the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute at the University of Wisconsin, which holds a national competition for fellowships. UCLA graduate students interested in the summer institute in Madison, Wisc., may contact CSEAS for more information.

The Southeast Asian languages taught at UCLA that are eligible for FLAS support are Indonesian, Tagalog (Filipino), Thai, and Vietnamese.

Published: Monday, May 08, 2006