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Global Studies for Everyone: International Institute Holds Open House and Fellowship Fair

Global Studies for Everyone: International Institute Holds Open House and Fellowship Fair

Good student turnout explores study abroad opportunities, funding in international studies, and interdepartmental degree programs.

By Richard Gunde

Every student inevitably faces two questions: What should I study? And, whatever I study, how can I pay for it? Answers aplenty to both questions were available at the open house and fellowship fair held by the International Institute in Bunche Hall on December 2.

Global Studies Is for Everyone

Over one hundred and twenty students and faculty turned out to learn of UCLA’s extraordinarily rich offering of courses and programs of study -- and funding -- both dealing with the world beyond the borders of America and available beyond the borders of America. Representatives of the International Institute’s area studies centers and programs were on hand to introduce and explain the wealth of opportunities. Lively discussions were in swing all around the room as students downed pizza, fried potatoes, chicken, and deserts along with coffee and lemonade as they plied their questions.

There was a lot of interest in the Education Abroad Program (EAP), which each year sends around 500 UCLA students (sophomores through graduate students) to full-year and short-term programs in a wide range of academic disciplines at over 140 institutions in 34 countries. Through EAP, students gain a deeper understanding of other cultures, as well as their own, and prepare to excel in the internationally competitive world.

Students also explored the International Institute's interdepartmental degree programs (IDPs), which allow students to focus on a particular area of study -- either a specific geographic area, or a global comparative and issue-oriented approach -- through a variety of disciplines. The Institute’s IDPs now span four graduate degree-programs (African Studies, East Asian Studies, Islamic Studies, and Latin American Studies) as well as seven undergraduate programs.

But this year there was also something new. The International Institute has launched a Global Learning Institute which will feature for-credit summer classes, entitled Emerging Economies: Asia, taught by leading UCLA faculty members. On-tap for summer of 2004 are programs in Shanghai and Hong Kong. As an added incentive there will be selected opportunities for some of the students to stay on after the class is over and do internships with local companies or with the government or an NGO. And several merit-based scholarships of $3,000 are available to UCLA students from the International Institute.

The Global Learning Institute is driven by changes in the world that in many ways became especially apparent after September 11. Most of the world’s greatest problems – whether terrorism, or AIDS, or hundreds of others – do not respect national borders. That is to say, these problems are rarely restricted to one county, or even one region. Many encompass the entire globe. A traditional area studies approach alone may not be adequate to understanding and confronting such problems. While the world still needs, a core of experts with deep knowledge of the histories and cultures of other countries and fluent in their languages, it also needs educated people who are knowledgeable about, and comfortable in, a wide variety of international settings. By the same token, specialists in any discipline or field – be it law, medicine, art, or almost anything else – will also need to have experience in and knowledge about the outside world if they wish to have a global impact.

Learning about the outside world from the confines of a classroom – whether it be at UCLA or any other university in America -- is not ideal. Naturally, we must all have a home port, so to speak. But unless we sail forth when the opportunity presents itself, our horizon is surely going to be limited. While it is true that one picture is worth a thousand words, it is also true that one personal glimpse of the real world may be worth hundreds of classroom hours. The programs of the Global Learning Institute will give students more than a glimpse of the world beyond our borders.

Money Is Available

The UCLA International Institute and its units provide more than $1.6 million in direct student fellowships each year, as well as many student jobs, teaching assistantships, work-study and other types of employment. The Institute's open house also distributed information on extramural funding from a huge number of sources.

When it comes to seeking funding, the first problem confronting every student is finding out what is available. Sad to say, but each year all across America countless scholarships and fellowships are not awarded for the simple reason that no one qualified applied for them. Here, as in so many other areas, knowledge is power. When it comes to sources of funding, the International Institute’s centers and programs are a font of knowledge. Many post on their website up-to-date information on relevant scholarships and fellowships. Most also have e-mail mailing lists, and distribute announcements of funding opportunities. The International Institute website itself has a valuable summary of funding opportunities for both students and faculty available from the Institute’s centers and programs. Go to http://www.international.ucla.edu/funding.asp, and follow the links to the pages appropriate to your needs.

Students and faculty alike should be sure to regularly check the website of the International Institute (which has links to all of its constituent centers and programs) and, if they are not already on the relevant mailing lists, they should contact the centers and programs of interest to them and get on their lists. It could literally pay off.

UCLA International Institute