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.