South Asia Center Grant Renewed

Rob Enslin

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the South Asia Center (SAC) in the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs nearly $1.4 million in Title VI language and area studies funding. The four year award will support the creation of a pipeline of students proficient in modern South Asian languages, who will undertake field research, internships, employment and further language training.

The funding also will help infuse South Asian studies into community college and teacher development programs, and will expose students and faculty to diverse perspectives about sustainability through a new Sustainable South Asia Initiative.

SAC is part of the Cornell-Syracuse South Asia Consortium, which, since 1985, has served students and faculty at both universities, working in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. The consortium and SAC have the added distinction of being National Resource Centers (NRCs), language and area studies centers funded by the Department of Education. NRCs serve as “national resources” for the teaching of modern foreign languages. SAC is Syracuse’s only NRC.

Carol Babiracki, SAC Director, is proud of the NRC designation because it reflects favorably on faculty, staff and students. “We offer a range of highly successful conferences and seminars that expose students to cutting-edge research and personal interactions with experts,” she says.

Another measure of the consortium’s value is the number of well-placed alumni. They occupy important positions in the U.S. Department of State, the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the Peace Corps, World Bank, specialized agencies of the United Nations, and colleges and universities across the globe.

At SU, Title VI grants support Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) instruction, research fellowships, student and faculty training, national and international partnerships, and study abroad activities. Curricular emphasis is on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“Title VI grants not only strengthen Syracuse’s programs, but also help us share our expertise with teachers and students in area K-12 programs, community colleges and schools of education, such as Syracuse’s School of Education and Onondaga Community College,” Babiracki says.

Babiracki, an ethnomusicologist who does research in India, has high expectations for the consortium. Upcoming goals include more than 200 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in intermediate and advanced modern foreign language programs; faculty advancement and study-abroad partnerships with Onondaga, Monroe and Tompkins Cortland community colleges, as well as SUNY Cortland and Buffalo State universities; and a network of joint teaching, research and public outreach activities related to sustainable communities in South Asia.

“The Sustainable South Asia Initiative will feature working groups, speakers, seminars, symposia and study abroad opportunities for students and faculty,” she says. “Rather than looking at sustainability only through disciplinary lenses, we will consider how these perceptions intersect with one another, leading to a greater understanding of the sustainability of communities, businesses and democratic institutions in South Asia.” Babiracki says the consortium satisfies Central New York’s demand for globally competent citizens and professionals—individuals who understand prevailing world conditions, issues and trends, and can communicate effectively cross-culturally. “We ensure a steady stream of graduates with expertise in one or more modern South Asian languages, area studies and transnational trends,” she concludes.