||Grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations strengthens Centre's global citizenship initiative
RELEASED: October 29, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—Centre College's global citizenship initiative—which earlier this month got a remarkable boost from a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—just keeps getting stronger.
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations recently awarded the College a $250,000 grant to advance its goal of educating students for global citizenship.
During the next three years, the grant will allow Centre to hire a postdoctoral fellow to teach Mandarin, provide students with grants to pursue study and internships in Asia, provide faculty members with development grants to encourage globalization and provide administrative support for the director of the College's Center for Global Citizenship.
The focus on Asian studies reflects Centre's awareness of China's emergence as an international economic power.
Last year, the College began a Centre-in-China study abroad program, and this fall, the second group of Centre students is taking part in the exchange program.
While living and studying in Shanghai, the students study Chinese conversation (Mandarin), Chinese culture and Asian Economics.
And because in the past Centre has not been able to offer courses in Mandarin, the students have had to delve into the language for the first time while living in China.
"English and Mandarin are on completely opposite sides of the language spectrum," says Jason Boldt '11, who is currently studying in Shanghai. "So you don't even have the familiarity of shared words as with Spanish, French or another Romance languages. The most difficult part has been acclimating to tones, which are as important to Mandarin as vowels are to English. Learning Mandarin here has been incredibly difficult."
The grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations will help change that, making the dream of adding Mandarin to Centre's already impressive foreign language offerings on campus a reality.
"I definitely think that having taken Mandarin here at Centre would have altered my experience in China," says Brock Klein '10, who was one of the first Centre students to study in Shanghai. "Having already been established in Chinese would have enabled me to explore China more widely; any restrictions of 'English spoken here' would have been removed, and I could have traveled a little more freely."
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations grant will enable a post-doctorate scholar in Madarin language and Chinese culture to spend three years teaching introductory and intermediate courses in Mandarin, as well as courses in his or her primary discipline.
The position, Centre believes, will be the catalyst in jump-starting the Asian Studies program, which is an initative within the College's strategic plan, Centre Forward.
It will also serve as a prelude to what will possibly become an Asian Studies minor.
"The increasing popularity of our study abroad program in China has spurred us into action in this direction," says Dr. Lori Hartmann-Mahmud, associate professor of international studies and chair of Centre's global citizenship committee. "It's clear that China is poised to become a global superpower in the near future. In economic terms, it already is. Thus, it's important that our students have opportunities to travel to China, to study the languages and culture, and to become more aware of its importance on the world stage."
The new grant will also allow students to seek study and internship opportunities in Asia, where travel is more expensive than in many other locations. The student grants will enable six to 15 students each year to pursue opportunities that might otherwise not be feasible financially.
Grants will be available to faculty members as well. Funds will support faculty across all disciplines to encourage a culture of internationalization among the College's faculty.
Faculty development grants can be used to provide everything from course development to travel abroad to immersion language courses to faculty exchange with universities overseas.
Finally, the grant will provide administrative support for Dr. Milton Reigelman, director of the Center for Global Citizenship, special assistant to the president, and professor of English.
The grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations is a tremendous boon to Centre's goal of transforming every student into a global citizen. Faculty, staff and students alike are thrilled that the grant will provide students with more opportunities than ever to discover the world.
"Seeing my culture from such a different perspective helps me appreciate small aspects of life that I don't even think about while I'm in the States." Boldt says. "Living and interacting in such a different environment from our own provides a new lens through which we can view our own culture."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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