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Wednesday, August 2, 2006
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Southeast Asian and African Studies programs are national leaders with help from department of education awards

ATHENS, Ohio (Aug. 2, 2006) -- Ohio University's African Studies and Southeast Asian Studies programs have won Title VI grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling nearly $3 million over a four-year period. The grants, which each program has received previously, help establish them as national leaders in their respective fields.

The grants designate the programs as National Resource Centers. The two programs provide instruction in language and area studies at the university as well as provide outreach to students, teachers and residents across the state and beyond. The African Studies program has received the designation since 1994, and the Southeast Asian Studies program received it from 2000 to 2003.

"These awards go only to programs the U.S. Department of Education considers the strongest in the nation, so it is in effect a seal of approval from the federal government to have our programs designated as National Resource Centers," said Drew McDaniel, interim director of Ohio University's Center for International Studies, which houses both programs. "Having more than one National Resource Center puts us in the company of Ivy League schools and prestigious institutions across the nation like Stanford, Berkeley, University of Wisconsin and University of Michigan."

The national recognition and support has contributed to the success of the two prestigious programs. The Southeast Asian Studies program has one of the finest Southeast Asia Collections in the United States. Home to the U.S. depository for books, government documents and media that exemplify Malaysian culture and history, Ohio University's Alden Library houses the most extensive collection of Malaysian resources in North America.

"American and European scholars come to Athens to do research in our Malaysian materials library," said Josep Rota, associate provost for international affairs. "Malaysian scholars come to Ohio University to find books they can't even find in Malaysia."

Ohio's African Studies Program has created the Institute for the African Child - which promotes research, teaching and service that focus on African children - and will co-sponsor the fifth World Summit on Children and the Media in Johannesburg, South Africa next summer.

"We are establishing ourselves in a niche that isn't getting a lot of attention," said W. Stephen Howard, Director of African Studies and the Institute for the African Child. "We have established solid friendships with people on the African continent so that our knowledge of Africa becomes more profound. These relationships with scholars and institutions on the continent are essential to an intimate understanding of Africa."

Both programs will utilize the new grant funds to support outreach efforts to educate K-12 students, teachers and community members about their respective geographic areas. They will work together to offer a workshop on Islam for public school teachers from around the state.

With the new four-year grant, Southeast Asian Studies will support the creation of new faculty positions in history and sociology and the development of new courses for the Southeast Asian Studies undergraduate major. The grant funds will also support the acquisition of library resources, reinstitution of Khmer language courses and collaborative conferences with Northern Illinois University and the University of Pittsburgh.

The African Studies program will use the grant funds for several new faculty and staff positions and an instructional design component involving more of a Web presence and online courses. Grant funds will also support a new art history faculty position and a new tenure-track position in Biomedical Sciences.

"This award puts us among distinguished universities for African studies," Howard said. "It provides financial support both to colleges in terms of establishing new faculty positions and to graduate students in the form of graduate assistantships."

The African Studies program also received U.S. Department of Education funding for Foreign Language and Area Studies student fellowships for graduate study. African Studies will receive funding over the next four years to support up to 60 students demonstrating superb academic achievement and a commitment to the study of African languages and area studies. With the Department of Education grant funding, Ohio University will teach 10 African languages: Akan, Amharic, Arabic, Gikuyu, Pulaar, Somali, Sudanese Arabic, Swahili, Tigrinya and Wolof.

To learn more about the Center for International Studies as well as the African Studies and Southeast Asian Studies programs, visit www.internationalstudies.ohio.edu.

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Media Contact:  International Studies Assistant Director for Communication and Graduate Programming Jennifer Cochran, (740) 593-1842 or cochraj1@ohio.edu, or Director of Media Relations Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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