BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A newly established, federally funded Russian Language Flagship will join Indiana University's Arabic, Chinese and Turkish Language Flagships in fall 2018, making IU Bloomington the only institution in the United States with four such programs and reinforcing IU's reputation as an exceptional place for language study.
The two-year, $600,000 award will support accelerated individualized language training of undergraduates from various academic fields and disciplines who decide to boost their academic or professional portfolios by adding professional proficiency in Russian and extensive experience living, studying and completing internships abroad. For their final capstone year, Russian Flagship students will travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan, an exciting crossroads of Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek and many other cultures.
The Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the U.S. Department of Defense, promotes innovative language study to raise new generations of global professionals who will join the workforce equipped with professional-level language skills in one of seven critical languages and accompanying intercultural competencies.
Indiana University recognizes the importance of language training and promotes the study of world languages and cultures as key aspects of undergraduate education. The IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences teaches more than 60 languages each year, most through the intermediate and advanced levels. IU has developed a strong support system for language education, including the Center for Language Excellence, two national language resource centers, one of the nation's finest language technology centers and extensive media collections.
"We must continue to train graduates who can thrive in a diverse and globally connected world," said Russell Valentino, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and international affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences. "IU has invested seriously in faculty who can train our students to achieve high levels of foreign language proficiency.
"Partnering with the Language Flagship gives us another dimension in our curricular options and highlights the degree to which foreign language and area education have long been key strengths of this institution," he said. "Through our four Language Flagship programs, Indiana University's commitment to maintaining and enhancing its place as a leader in international education becomes especially evident. These programs help our students connect to the world in active and direct ways that will have long-term positive effects."
The Russian Flagship will be housed in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures. Founded in 1947, the Slavic department has a long history of teaching Russian language and culture and graduating experts to work in education, politics, business, government and many other domains. This award highlights the status of Russian as one of IU's staple languages.
The undergraduate Russian Flagship program will be led by Maria Shardakova, director of Russian language instruction. Shardakova will work with colleagues across campus to offer a high-impact curriculum to train Russian language specialists at the undergraduate level across a broad range of disciplines and academic fields.
"One of the most attractive and valuable aspects of Language Flagships is that they level the playing field, making elite language education available to broad populations of students," she said. "Every flagship student receives substantial support through free tutoring, free conversation sessions and rich co-curricular programming. Moreover, with flagship students becoming a regular fixture of our language classes, we hope to raise the Russian language education bar across all language classes, making sure that every student reaches the highest possible proficiency level."
Shardakova said the Russian Flagship will have a positive ripple effect for programs associated with politics; security; social, historical and cultural study; environmental affairs and many other fields. It will reinforce existing partnerships and create new cross-campus collaborations.