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South and Southeast Asia Programs named National Resource Centers

Mary Moroney, a PhD student in linguistics, received a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) grant to study Thai and Southeast Asian studies in preparation for her research in Thailand.

The Einaudi Center’s South Asia Program (SAP) and Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) have been awarded more than $3.9 million in Title VI grants under the federal National Resource Centers (NRC) and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships programs.

The four-year grants, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Education, support language instruction, fellowships, outreach to K-12 teachers and faculty at community colleges and teacher training institutions, international partnerships, study abroad and other activities.

“The National Resource Center designation is a hard-earned honor,” said Wendy Wolford, Cornell’s Vice Provost for International Affairs. “It is really a testimony to the world-class faculty, students and staff of these extraordinary programs.”

SEAP will receive approximately $2.3 million and SAP, which is in a consortium with Syracuse University’s South Asia Center, will receive roughly $1.6 million. The FLAS grants will provide tuition and stipends for 14 graduate students each year, and enable nine graduate and undergraduate students to pursue intensive language study during the summers. 

Mary Kate Long (Asian Studies) in Myanmar.

SEAP has been an NRC since the Title VI program began in 1958. Sixty years of NRC and FLAS grants have helped solidify its standing as one of the strongest area study programs in the country. Its John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia is the largest in the world, with more than 500,000 monographs in 162 languages. SEAP publishes Southeast Asian monographs and language textbooks, and produces the only journal exclusively on Indonesia.

Cornell is also the only university in the United States to offer four levels of study in all six major Southeast Asian languages (Burmese, Khmer, Indonesian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Thai).

“These rich offerings are supported in part through NRC funding,” said Abby Cohn, director of SEAP and professor of linguistics.

“Language training for undergraduates, graduate students and, on occasion, faculty members is critical to all facets of the research and teaching mission of the Southeast Asia Program,” Cohn said. “Cornell has taken a leadership role through its commitment to teaching the least commonly taught of the less commonly taught languages.”

The Cornell-Syracuse South Asia Consortium has been a National Resource Center since 1985. SAP has 58 affiliated faculty from across Cornell’s colleges and schools, working in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It offers eleven South Asian languages: Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Pali, Persian, Punjabi, Sinhala, Sanskrit, Tamil, Tibetan, and Urdu, and is the only university outside Asia to offer four levels of Nepali and Sinhala.

“These awards enable Cornell students to study critically important languages that are necessary for any in-depth engagement with South Asia,” said SAP director Iftikhar Dadi,  professor of the history of art. “Our program is distinctive in covering the breadth of South Asia, which includes Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and their diasporas.”

Among the SAP projects funded by the NRC grant is the Sustainable South Asia Initiative, which features a series of workshops and seminars with community college and teacher education partners, a speaker series, a conference and community college faculty development opportunities in India.

SAP and SEAP collaborate on outreach activities for New York State educators, including teacher training workshops and an annual International Studies Summer Institute for K-12 teachers. They also maintain collections of cultural and language materials for use by teachers year-round.