South Wins Grant to Expand Global Studies

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Joy Washington
Joy Washington

Dr. Christine Rinne standing in front of Waterman Globe data-lightbox='featured'
A nearly $500,000 grant awarded to USA will strengthen and help expand existing programs in international studies and modern and classical languages and literature. “This is the first time South and the College of Arts and Sciences have received this type grant," said Dr. Christine Rinne, associate professor of German and the principal investigator on the grant.

The University of South Alabama is among 21 colleges and universities nationwide awarded a substantial grant by the U.S. Department of Education International Studies and Foreign Language Program. The grant will allow the University to further develop its Global Studies Expansion Initiative, with enhanced language offerings, global health and international studies opportunities, and outreach to local high schools and community colleges.

“We started working on applying for this grant earlier this year, and we are pleased to have been the recipient along with other prestigious institutions of higher learning,” said Dr. Christine Rinne, associate professor of German, project director and coordinator of the Global Engagement Certificate program. “This is the first time South and the College of Arts and Sciences have received this type grant. And, we are pleased the University will provide matching funds to support this grant initiative.”

The $467,419 grant will strengthen and help expand existing programs in international studies and modern and classical languages and literature. The funds will be used to support the following objectives:

Objective 1: Establish an international studies concentration in global health

  • Create four courses in three disciplines; redesign the international studies senior seminar
  • Add a global health component to two First Year Experience sections
  • Establish a speaker series on global health
  • Provide additional funds for students studying global health abroad

Objective 2: Build a minor and later, a concentration, in Mandarin in modern and classical languages and literature

  • Develop three courses in Mandarin and Asian Studies
  • Provide additional scholarships for study abroad
  • Purchase realia, which are real-life objects used for classroom instruction
  • Expand library holdings in the field
  • Host film screening with director

Objective 3: Expand offerings in Russian

  • Update and add courses in Russian and Russian Studies
  • Update and expand library resources
  • Host a speaker series
  • Establish a dual enrollment Introductory Russian course at a local high school
  • Provide additional funding for study abroad
  • Host film screening with director

Objective 4: Provide outreach support to local high schools and community colleges

  • Conduct workshop for local community colleges on internationalizing curriculum
  • Provide professional development workshops for local foreign language teachers
  • Sponsor and participate in the Mobile International Festival
  • Host a Preview Day for area high school students to learn about our offerings

The grant will also support a research project, Digital Humanities, which is being managed by Dr. Mara Kozelsky, associate professor of history and an expert on Ukrainian and Russian history; Dr. Nicholas Gossett, assistant professor of Russian; and  Ekaterina Zakharova, a Russian language expert and adjunct instructor of Russian.

“The three of us are translating historical documents of the Crimean War from Russian into English to make this pivotal conflict accessible to an Anglophone audience, which are English-speaking communities in areas where more than one language is usually spoken,” Kozelsky explained. “We anticipate generating multiple research products. At this point, we are planning to write a book and have completed about 15 percent of our translations for that book. Because so many readers are turning to digital sources for information, we are also creating a companion website. Our website will publish images, additional translations and the longer versions of the excerpted texts in the book.”

The grant will also fund Kozelsky’s attendance at a week-long digital humanities conference in 2019 at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “At the week-long conference, I will also acquire new skills to co-teach with Dr. Gossett, as we plan a new interdisciplinary team-taught digital humanities class projected for spring 2020,” she said. “Language students will translate newspaper reports written during the Crimean War, and history students will annotate these translations. Together, students will publish their research online. Dr. Gossett and I will oversee their publication and ensure the scholarly quality of material. The class will offer students professional experience in humanities research and teach them modern methods of disseminating information.”

Kozelsky and Gossett said their department chairs and the University leadership have been extraordinarily supportive of their efforts, along with the USA librarians who are meeting with them to discuss data management. Also, Kozelsky said Dr. Marsha Hamilton, associate professor of history, has offered critical insights into how the curriculum connects with students seeking jobs in museums.

Gossett said the grant will also expand efforts to provide language training to those in other colleges and schools.

“We will add language modules in our courses for different fields such as computing, engineering and business,” he said. “This will provide students with better opportunities for jobs, internships, grad programs and research projects. We are also bringing in speakers every semester to talk with students about utilizing their knowledge of language and culture in various fields.”

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