Indiana University to Train Future Military Leaders in Language, Culture

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue May 8 14:20:19 UTC 2007

IU to Train Future Military Leaders in Language, Culture Report

5/7/2007 1:53:29 PM

Indiana University is receiving a grant of more than $481,000 to teach
future military officers strategic languages and cultures of countries
overseas. The languages include Arabic, Russian and several for central
Asian countries. IU's new program was created by the Strategic Languages
and Cultures Task Force, which was created last year by president-elect
Michael A. McRobbie.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has been selected to receive a
two-year federal grant for $481,630 to provide strategic language and
culture training to undergraduate students in Reserve Officer Training
Corps (ROTC) programs. The Institute of International Education (IIE), on
behalf of the National Security Education Program of the U.S. Department
of Defense, selected IU's ROTC Strategic Languages and Cultures Program to
participate in this new initiative, which aims to improve the abilities of
future military officers to speak and understand strategic languages and
cultures. The languages covered by IU's program are Arabic, Russian, and
the Central Asian languages Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Pashto, Tajik, Turkmen,
Uyghur and Uzbek.

The co-principal investigators are Henry R. Cooper Jr., professor of
Slavic languages and literatures, and Paul M. Foster Jr., director of the
Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region and professor of Slavic
languages and literatures. "This grant allows IU to craft innovative
approaches, including new curricula and enhanced use of distance learning
technologies, that respond to needs the U.S. government recognizes as
critical now and in the future," Foster said. Under IU's program, up to 25
ROTC cadets enrolled at IU or other universities will receive scholarships
to study a strategic language and culture at IU's intensive summer
language workshop, during which the cadets will complete a year's worth of
training in eight-to-nine weeks.

After the summer workshop, IU's program will provide the ROTC cadets with
additional funding to continue language and culture training in the
2007-08 academic year, either at IU, in language programs at their home
universities, or through distance education courses provided by IU
faculty. IU's program, which will be directed by Gene Coyle, adjunct
professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, provides
innovative ways to help ROTC cadets shoulder the challenge of studying
languages and cultures not typically taught in high schools. The program
provides cadets with scholarships, intensive language training in small
classes, individual tutoring, and activities designed to inform the cadets
of the importance of strategic language and culture training for U.S.
national security and foreign policy.

"The Department of Defense realizes that they need officers who are
competent and fluent in these languages and cultures, and there are few
places in the country other than IU that can teach them that," said Kirk
R. White, IU's director of community relations and a National Guardsman
who spent a year on active duty in Afghanistan. "This grant reinforces IU
as a recognized, national resource for the strategic languages inside the
Department of Defense." IU's new program was crafted by the Strategic
Languages and Cultures Task Force, which President-elect Michael A.
McRobbie created last fall to explore IU's opportunities to strengthen its
connections with the U.S.  Departments of State, Defense and Homeland
Security on language and culture education, training and policy. As home
to a record-10 international research centers that receive approximately
$16 million in Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education, IU
is well situated to partner with U.S. government agencies coping with
challenges posed by strategic language and culture education.

"Our language and cultural studies programs have long been among our great
strengths as a university," McRobbie said. "We wanted to find new ways to
connect these academic assets with state and federal agencies that are
finding an increased need for this type of knowledge." Members of the IU
Strategic Languages and Cultures Task Force in addition to Cooper, Foster
and White are David P. Fidler, professor of law and director of the Center
on American and Global Security, and William Fierman, professor of Central
Eurasian studies and director of the Inner Asian and Uralic National
Resource Center.

The Task Force received valuable support in the grant application process
from IU's ROTC commanders, Lt. Col. Eric D. Arnold, professor of military
science, and Lt. Col. Lori M. Bass, professor of aerospace studies, and
from the Departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Central Eurasian
Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and the College of Arts and

Source: Indiana University


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