The academic year of 2020-2021 was one of the most challenging in many ways. We reimagined what a classroom looked like when students and faculty were not physically together. We connected with others around the world for brown bag talks and round-table discussions. Our international area and global studies centers and thematic programs continued their teaching, research, and outreach to those in our community and those far away. When we look back at these highlights from this past year, we see how we continued our global conversations while adapting to the circumstances yet staying true to our mission and core beliefs.
We thank you for your support, and we look forward to continuing our global conversations to create the highlights for the coming year.
This award recognizes sustained excellence in and innovative approaches to undergraduate teaching and contributions beyond classroom instruction that have an overall positive impact on undergraduate student learning. Honorees are represented from three employee categories: Faculty, Specialized Faculty, and Teaching Assistants.
The gift from Amb. Witaker is the first gift dedicated to undergraduate African Studies scholarships and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Center for African Studies. Ambassador Whitaker holds an M.S. in Biology and an M.S. in community health education from UIUC. The Prof. Eyamba Bokamba Graduate Scholarship Fund celebrates the commitment, rigor, tenacity, and visionary leadership of the gifted teacher. People and institutions worldwide have benefited from Professor Eyamba Georges Bokamba's insights and contributions to the fields of Linguistics, African Languages in particular and Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) in general.
Two semester-long postdoctoral fellowships are now being advertised for a January 15, 2022 start date. After the two inaugural postdoctoral scholars in the 2022 Spring semester, there will be a one-year-long postdoctoral fellowship for academic year 2022-23, and subsequent academic years. According to former Lemann Center Director Mary Arends-Kuenning, Werner Baer had commented on his own wish to see this sort of postdoctoral opportunity institutionalized, bringing full circle the support of doctoral students and faculty members at the University of Illinois.
Working together with the co-investigators at the Library’s Slavic Reference Service, REEEC was able to retool the SRL into a virtual format (VSRL). Already answering thousands of remote inquiries a year, the SRS was able to expand its capacity to work with scholars virtually.
For this summer’s VSRL, which includes VSRL 2020 Associates and VSRL 2021 Associates, REEEC and SRS staff were able to organize a robust schedule of programming for the VSRL Associates. SRS staff are able to provide virtual bibliographical assistance and collection services, along with training sessions, digital Library access, and duplication services for the Associates. REEEC staff have hosted events such as lightning labs (lightning round sessions), talks, paper presentations, socials, and networking opportunities to help Associates meet each other and learn more about their research in progress. Additionally, both REEEC and SRS staff have provided support for four thematic and skill-building workshops: Frozen Conflicts in Eurasia: Origin, Status, and Outlook (June 16-18, 2021); Climate and Society in Eurasia: Past, Present, and Future (June 28-30, 2021); A Woman’s Work is Never Done: Female Life and Labor Across the Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Eras (July 10-11, 2021); and Media Culture in Balkan and Eurasian Muslim Communities (July 15-16, 2021). This year’s VSRL is made possible by generous support from the US Department of State, through its Program for Research and Training on Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).
Through CSAMES’ administration, the UISFL grant will broaden and deepen the undergraduate study of the languages and cultures of the Middle East, allowing Illinois to build on its historic strengths in area and language studies, which have been recognized by the Department of Education for four decades. In addition to offering competitive grants for Arabic, Persian, and Turkish to students, the grant will support a variety of outreach activities in area and language studies, including a conference on military interventions in the Middle East, a documentary film series on daily life in the region, events on Turkish culture and a workshop on careers in Middle East studies. The grant will also support a long-time need for a permanent Director of Persian, supported by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as assistantships for Arabic and Turkish to serve both language programs. Furthermore, the grant will fund enhancements in the curriculum on Middle East studies through funding a new online course on Introduction to Middle East Studies, a Persian Gulf Studies course, and a Digital Humanities course, and provide for exploratory trips for new faculty-led study abroad programs to Turkey and Jordan, where the focus will be learning about refugee voices. CSAMES will also purposefully seek to engage with pre-service teachers and ROTC students through a lecture series and events serving these students.
The summer 2021 fellows are Tinker: Margaret Giacalone (Anthropology) and Michelle Patino-Flores (Anthropology); Whitten: Carmen Gallegos (Spanish and Portuguese), Kutasha Bryan-Silva (Curriculum and Instruction), and Grazzia Grimaldi (Anthropology); and Love - Joe Coyle (Anthropology). The 2021-22 GSL fellows are Margaret Giacalone (Anthropology), Marcos Alacron Olivos (History), Thereza Lituma (Voice), and Caio Albernaz Siqueira (Spanish and Portuguese).
Groups of faculty, as well as outreach coordinators from IGI centers and programs, worked even in the context of the pandemic on projects sponsored by the IGI Migration and Refugees in Global Perspective Initiative. The projects ranged from comparative legal frameworks and social climates for migration to financial networks among Syrian refugees, as well as projects with local migrant and refugee communities. The Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program (WGGP) “Fostering Empathy for Latin American Migrants through Game Design” project detailed in this newsletter reflects these efforts. A spring 2021 collaboration between IGI and HRI featured a screening of the documentary "From Here," along with a conversation with its Director, Christina Antonakos-Wallace. The film focused on ways in which four artists and activists from immigrant families in New York and berlin refined belonging.
The initiative was originally awarded funding by the University of Illinois CO+RE: Community + Research Partnership Program. The main focus of CO+RE is to develop long-term, reciprocal relationships with community stakeholders in East Central Illinois. The program is supported by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.
Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, gave the EU Day keynote talk on gender equality in Sweden and the EU and what it means to have a feminist foreign policy. She also met with graduate students and representatives of groups in Illinois with interests in Sweden. Her address outlined Sweden’s approach to gender equality; how generous childcare and gender-neutral parental leave have benefitted the GDP of Nordic countries; and why women’s equal access to rights, resources, and representation should be hard foreign policy concerns.
The Women at the Frontlines against COVID-19 event brought together women-led community organizations from Iran, Argentina, and South Africa. These women discussed how their missions have shifted during COVID-19, and participants learned firsthand about the importance of leadership and community support in times of crisis. Live language interpretation was provided in Spanish and Farsi. The spring event was recorded and is now available at the link below. WGGP hopes to bring more group conversations on Feminists Collectives in the upcoming semesters.
AsiaLENS is a film screening and discussion series offering campus and community audiences an opportunity to view documentary and independent films on issues reflecting contemporary life in Asia. Presented admission-free with support from CEAPS, Spurlock Museum, and Asian Educational Media Service, audiences engage with local and visiting experts who introduce the films and lead post-screening discussions.
Director and Language Coordinator of Turkish, Ayse Ozcan, incorporated these events into her classes, motivating her students to learn the language in a more meaningful and practical way. The informative and practical value of these events are reflected in a comment by Hannah Wernecke, an Intermediate Turkish student:
“Being able to learn about the history of Turkish coffee was a great supplementary way to learn more about the Turkish language and culture. It was fascinating to learn not only the history, but the cultural significance of Turkish coffee and how it serves as an everyday fixture in Turkish society. In addition, it was interesting to learn about the many health benefits of Turkish coffee and the art of fortune telling through Turkish coffee grounds. Overall, this was one of my favorite presentations I’ve listened to and from this, I gained a more well-rounded education of Turkish culture and history.”
Professor Ozcan is looking to continue these initiatives in the 2021-22 school year and hopes the program continues to grow.
This event was preceded by a discussion led by Professor Jessica Greenberg, the organizer of the REEEC CMS in Legal Studies initiative, on authoritarianism and rule of law in Europe. Additional events in this initiative were a workshop featuring Forensic Architecture and new methodologies in evidence and documenting human rights violations.