We are excited to announce that the University of Kansas Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education both to be a designated Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and to provide Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for our students over the next four years. International and area studies have long been a historical strength at KU, a member of the prestigious AAU; the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, with its nationally renowned faculty, deep and broad area studies and foreign language curriculum, and rich Study Abroad opportunities, is a key component of KU’s strength in international education.
The funding amounts to approximately 2.1 million in the 2022-2026 cycle. Our proposed initiatives focus on the theme of Strengthening Communities in KU, the Midwest, and Latin America and Caribbean. To do this, we will build on both longstanding and recently established connections, particularly in Costa Rica, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, and the Caribbean and capitalize on digital technology normalized during the pandemic. Both designations reflect not only the hard work of KU, but also a common mission shared by regional institutions and organizations, and we are excited that CLACS students and faculty across all disciplines, K-14 teachers, Community Colleges, and Minority Serving Institutions will collaborate, learn, and professionalize in these strengthened relationships.
This funding creates some amazing opportunities for curriculum development, programming, community outreach, and language learning in the region: CLACS will be very active in K-12 education with brand new projects focused on literacy, serialized professional development workshops for educators, and summer language institutes for less commonly taught languages (free to students and educators); the center will continue successful initiatives like the World Languages Fair and Traveling World Language Fairs as well as student recruitment visits to KU, otherwise known as LACS Showcases; with the other KU Area Studies Centers, Donnelly College in Kansas City, and area Community Colleges like Johnson County Community College and Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City will continue programs like the Global Opportunities Expo and Pan American Summit; and finally, CLACS will be partnering with domestic and international institutions for several national conferences, while also offering competitive funding to faculty for travel, research, or the development of field schools or service learning projects.
An exemplary quality of CLACS is the number of indigenous and less-commonly-taught Latin American and Caribbean languages offered, such as Haitian Creole, Kaqchikel Maya, Mískitu, Portuguese, Quechua, Yucatec Maya, Guaraní, and Tlapanec (Me’phaa). While the pandemic may have upended language instruction, CLACS thrived during this time by leveraging virtual learning technologies to incorporate native speakers/instructors and welcoming non-KU students into the “classroom.” Grant funds will be used to sustain our growth and to develop additional language courses, such as Guaraní and Tlapanec. FLAS fellowships are available to KU and Non-KU graduate and undergraduate students interested in learning a less commonly taught language, providing up to $18,000 for tuition / fees and a $20,000 stipend during the academic year for graduate students or $10,000 for tuition / fees and a $5,000 stipend for the year for undergraduates. For both graduate and undergraduate students, summer fellowships are also available at $5,000 for tuition / fees and a $2,500 stipend. Applications annually are due around the New Year and awards are given in February.