July 26, 1999

Ford Foundation Awards Middlebury College a $250,000 Grant to Support International Studies Curriculum

The Ford Foundation has awarded Middlebury College a $250,000 grant to strengthen the international studies curriculum. The support will be used to expand the number of senior seminars in this area and to provide enrichment through visiting lecturers, conferences, and international internships. The grant will also provide outreach to local schools and teachers through programming that will involve both Middlebury students and faculty.

In 1997, Middlebury was one of 30 schools to receive a pilot grant from the foundation. Building on the success of the pilot grant, the College is one of 18 institutions to be awarded a second grant under one of the foundation's initiatives, The Crossing Borders: Revitalizing Area Studies.

According to Ronald D. Liebowitz, provost and executive vice president of the College, "Middlebury has had for many years strong area studies programs in Russian and East European studies and East Asian studies, plus an outstanding non-area studies based program in international politics and economics. In recent years, as a result of new hires to our faculty, we have been able to add programs in European and Latin American studies. We also have among the strongest undergraduate foreign language programs in the country.

"What was lacking was a way of connecting these intellectually isolated programs so that students who specialize in a particular area of the world can engage one another and study international topics from multiple regional and disciplinary perspectives. We wanted students to cross paths intellectually and to do so at the senior level. The seminars, initiated with a stage-one Ford Foundation grant in 1997, have provided the vehicle for the integrated senior experience we desired.

"The new seminars change the way in which a student normally studies during the senior year. In these courses, rather than focus on a highly specialized topic on a region or within a discipline, students who have specialized in different regions and disciplines, and who have studied in many different countries during their junior year, come together with two faculty with specializations in two different regions and disciplines to study a topic, such as nationalism, censorship and the arts, or war and memory-topics that know no political or regional boundaries. Students and faculty alike need to stretch beyond their usual geographical and intellectual limits in broad-based, thematic courses," added Liebowitz.

The grant will support a number of initiatives, including the following:

  • Provide cross-disciplinary and linguistic training for faculty developing and teaching the seminars.
  • Develop more international internship opportunities for Middlebury students through closer ties with the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad.
  • Sponsor a major conference in international studies in the third year of the grant to discuss the impact of Middlebury's new senior seminar program-and initiatives taken by other schools- on efforts to improve international studies at the undergraduate level.