CONTACT: LOIS GRAY
Iowa City IA 52242
UI PROJECT DIRECTOR: RUSSELL VALENTINO
ISU PROJECT DIRECTOR: MADELEINE HENRY
UNI PROJECT DIRECTOR: MARIA BASOM
Release: May 22, 2002
Foreign language distance learning consortium gets $320,000 grant
Students at Iowa's three state universities will have expanded access to
courses in Russian and Eastern European languages, culture and politics through
the new Iowa Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REEES) Distance
Learning Consortium. The consortium is being established through a $320,000
grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The federal Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL)
Program Grant will allow The University of Iowa, Iowa State University (ISU)
and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) to pool their resources in order
to offer a combined statewide curriculum in Russian and East European Studies,
said Russell Valentino, the lead project director, Russian professor, and
director of the UI Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
Other project directors are Madeleine Henry, chair of the department of
foreign languages and literatures at ISU, and Maria Basom, chair of the department
of modern languages and at UNI.
"More specialized fields of study have found themselves at a distinct
disadvantage compared with the most heavily enrolled subject areas, and Slavic,
East European, and Eurasian area studies have been among the disciplines most
affected," Valentino said. "We need to take advantage of technological
advances that allow us to share our resources and expertise to offer a solid,
enriched curriculum to students throughout the state."
Steven Hoch, associate provost and dean for UI International Programs, said
this partnership demonstrates tremendous teamwork among the three state universities
that ultimately benefits the students.
"Through the REEES Distance Consortium, we hope to pool faculty resources
and combine student populations so that undergraduate foreign language and
area studies offerings at all three campuses are simultaneously enriched,"
Hoch said. "This combines cutting edge technology with faculty expertise
to offer courses that would otherwise be difficult to offer due to limited
enrollment on any one campus."
Based on specific institutional strengths, faculty resources, and student
demand, the consortium will initially focus on offering Czech, Polish, and
Serbian-Croatian language instruction.
These will be augmented by a series of new, English-language courses on
Russian environmental health, Central Asian area studies, Yugoslav cultural
politics, Central European history, literature, and culture, and spiritual
responses to violence in the former USSR, Valentino said.
The consortium partners have been working together since summer 2001 to
evaluate technologies, select courses and explore internal funding sources.
The consortium will use an internet-based video conferencing technology (Polycom)
as its primary delivery system.
Future plans for the consortium include: curriculum development for 12 new
courses designed specifically for distanced delivery; procurement of additional
computer hardware and related equipment; establishment of study abroad opportunities;
and the organization of a series of REEES speakers to tour the three host
CREEES is part of International Programs, which consists of a number of
offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and
services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International
Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community
and promote global scholarship, research and training.