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UCLA receives Mellon Foundation grant to support area studies, language classesCindy Fan (Photo by Oliver Chien)

UCLA receives Mellon Foundation grant to support area studies, language classes

By Margaret MacDonald

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to UCLA, enabling new strategies that will elevate area studies, revitalize language instruction and increase engagement with local communities.

UCLA has long led the way for American universities in its commitment to area and international studies, with curriculum and programs dating back to 1930. Today UCLA’s International Institute offers a comprehensive area studies program that gives students a broad understanding of the international nature of the modern world and enables them to apply that knowledge to a particular geographical region. Hundreds of UCLA faculty are affiliated with the institute through its centers and programs, including many expert language lecturers from departments in the Humanities Division.

Additionally, the institute’s outreach programs serve local K-12 educators and community college teachers. UCLA language, education, technology and area studies experts provide training and professional development on campus, at school sites and overseas with teacher study tours.

At universities across the country, area studies programs and language instruction, particularly of less commonly taught languages, have been eroded by years of federal funding cuts. Humanities Dean David Schaberg said, "Language instruction throughout higher education is at a crossroads, and, unfortunately, many institutions are being forced to cut their language offerings. Mellon’s support is helping UCLA deliver on its commitment to offer an excellent comprehensive language program."

C. Cindy Fan, interim vice-provost for international studies and the International Institute, and professor of geography and Asian American studies, noted, "The Mellon grant will bolster the important work of the International Institute at UCLA, and help to maintain the university’s excellence in area studies in an era of dwindling federal support."

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is private and makes grants on a selective basis in the areas of higher education, museums and art conservation, performing arts, and conservation and the environment. The foundation has been a long-standing benefactor to UCLA, supporting, in addition to this gift, a wide array of university initiatives.

UCLA International Institute