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Record 12 federal awards galvanize Pitt’s reputation as a leader in international studies

As the University of Pittsburgh continues to expand its global impact, an unprecedented 12 concurrent U.S. Department of Education awards will support teaching, research and learning about five different world regions, key world languages and overarching global themes. All six of the University Center for International Studies’ (UCIS) global and area studies centers have been chosen to receive both National Resource Center grants and Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships by the federal government. These competitive awards place Pitt among the nation’s leaders in international and area studies and will bolster the work of Pitt faculty and their students with over $11 million in funding for the next four years.

The designation of these centers as National Resource Centers (NRC) will galvanize the reputations of the Asian Studies Center, Center for African Studies, European Studies Center, Center for Latin American Studies, Global Studies Center and Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. NRC funding will allow all six centers to maintain and expand existing programming, broadening the University’s student and community engagement and offering crucial global perspectives. Current center initiatives include teaching foreign language and area studies courses, offering study abroad opportunities to students, showcasing the vibrant immigrant communities of Pittsburgh and bringing international visitors and academic research to Pitt.

Dr. Ariel Armony, Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs and Director of UCIS, said, "We are very excited that the excellent work done by all of Pitt's global and area studies centers is recognized at this level. This is a historical achievement. The unprecedented number of awards places Pitt in a top group of global institutions that offer the best international research and learning experiences to all students."

The six centers also have concrete plans for expanded programming moving forward, including advancing initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion and equity within area studies; supporting course development to foster essential skills to students engaging in international careers; developing a consortium of colleges and universities across Appalachia to expand access to foreign language and international studies courses; and increasing the teaching of endangered and less commonly taught languages such as Quechua (an indigenous language of South America), Irish Gaelic, Twi and Slovak.

As the centers receive support for their educational missions, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) funding will directly support Pitt students as they seek to become proficient in less commonly taught languages and deepen their knowledge of related regions. Target languages include Portuguese, Arabic, Russian and Swahili, among others. FLAS funding will finance as many as 280 graduate and undergraduate students with academic year and summer fellowships over the next four years.

Starting in the spring of 2023, students will be encouraged to apply for FLAS funding through the UCIS website. FLAS scholarships will be available for both the academic year and summer term.

Celebrate Africa brings together guests from the continent with Pitt community

On September 16 and 17, 2022, the Center for African Studies will host the Celebrate Africa event in celebration of the vibrant, diverse cultures of the African continent. This two-day event will showcase Pitt’s academic and service work in Africa and provide an amazing opportunity for participants to experience a lively cultural celebration featuring music, dance, and food. 

As a combination conference-and-festival, Celebrate Africa will connect guests from the continent of Africa, representatives of the African diaspora community in Pittsburgh, and students and faculty from across the university to engage in bilateral cultural exchange and learn more about life in Africa through discussion and activities grounded in globally relevant themes. Pittsburgh’s significant African diaspora community has been actively involved in planning this event, which makes it especially relevant to the university and city community—attendees will have the opportunity to see the global in the local and expand their global mindset without leaving Oakland.  

More information about this event and the Center for African Studies is available on the CAS website

Cruising into Pittsburgh: International graduate students welcomed on Gateway Clipper trip

Nearly 200 international graduate students started their Pitt journeys with a Gateway Clipper river cruise on August 18.

Everyone met outside Soldiers and Sailors, arriving in small groups and trickling in individually as Office of International Services (OIS) staff rounded up stragglers. Quiet chatter and anticipation built as buses were boarded; there was plenty of neck craning to look up and out the windows at city scenery on the way there.

After a visit to the Point State Park Fountain, passengers embarked on the Queen, grabbing drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a spot with a view for the tour. Students reflected on their first thoughts about Pittsburgh as they looked in on the city from a new perspective, unfolding around and above them from the river. Many saw the cruise as a cherry on top of their decision to choose Pitt, feeling welcomed into the city and the university community with open arms. Several swapped favorite places they’d already found to grab coffee or a midday snack; others shared tips for navigating the city, finding an apartment, or figuring out the bus with their peers. 

Kati Von Lehman, Assistant Director of Outreach and Assessment for OIS, said “Orientation is our favorite time of year because we love welcoming our students and their families to Pitt. One of our most important responsibilities is helping them understand the bigger picture of the community they are joining and allowing them to connect with other new students who will be their peers and support system throughout their studies.”

Gradually, students found connections, even in unexpected places—a member of the same program was spotted with the help of handy nametags, a fellow fan of the band Blackpink was found, three engineers from different disciplines wound up at the same table. Students also had a chance to mingle with OIS staff, faculty members, and representatives from the office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, who will be some of their greatest supporters and resources during their time as Pittsburghers. And throughout the trip, everyone snapped plenty of pictures, of course, ready to share their journey in the steel city with friends and family back home.

Akira Pinto Medeiros, an incoming political science PhD student, said, “Travelling around all Pittsburgh's rivers brings a different perspective of this charming and welcoming city. Viewing the tall buildings from the downtown area alongside many factories that do not produce what they used to produce in the past, gives us a hint of how vibrant and suitable to change Pittsburgh is. As I am just starting my PhD here, I am sure I will be changed by this city within the next five years.”

As the riverboat’s passengers beheld Pittsburgh from the outside, one could imagine that the people waving and cheering from bridges above were looking down on a microcosm of the city—a vibrant community full of people from across the globe, bringing diverse backgrounds and expertise together to create something more in conversation with each other. 

Anupama Sudheer, a first-year graduate student in the Professional MS in Bioengineering, said, “My favorite part of the cruise was being able to meet so many fellow graduate students. This event post-pandemic provided an incredible opportunity for the incoming students to connect while witnessing the beauty that is Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has been really welcoming, I've had such a great time going around the city and exploring the place. Although classes haven't begun I'm affirmative that Pitt will be an exceptional environment for my higher education.”

Finally, the tour concluded, and just as our three rivers converge, students who entered the cruise as strangers emerged with new friends, colleagues, and connections in the city they’ll call home for the next several years. 

New Title Reflects Vice Chancellor Armony's University-Wide Responsibilities

Beginning July 1st, an adjustment in his title names Ariel Armony the Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs. Vice Chancellor Armony's new role reflects his university-wide responsibilities, and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann Cudd wrote that in his work at Pitt, Ariel has "steered the University's global engagement initiatives to grow international partnerships and foster real-world impact through global learning and research." Read the full statement here: https://www.provost.pitt.edu/news/vice-provost-global-affairs

The University of Pittsburgh’s Languages Across the Curriculum (LAC) Program Added by CLAC Consortium as an Institutional Member

The University of Pittsburgh’s Languages Across the Curriculum (LAC) Program offers students the opportunity to use world languages in courses offered in a variety academic disciplines, including those outside of languages and literature. The program aims to provide a curricular framework to develop and apply language and intercultural competences within all disciplines. It is based upon the belief that languages and intercultural perspectives promote a better and more nuanced understanding of content in any course. It aims to promote a better understanding of world regions while demonstrating the relevance of practical language skills across the disciplines.

The University Center for International Studies (UCIS), with funding from Pitt’s Title VI National Resource Centers, has embarked on a four year initiative to increase the number of LAC courses offered on campus. Currently, three Title VI National Resource Centers support the development of new LAC courses: the Asian Studies Center (ASC), the European Studies Center (ESC), and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REEES). The initiative also receives support from the Center for African Studies, Global Studies Center, and Center for Latin American Studies. Presently, students apply their second language skills in French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian to the study of academic content in fields such as Anthropology, History, Art History, Film Studies, Literatures, and Environmental Science. In the future, the program will expand to more languages and other disciplines. Please contact the program coordinator Dr. Haixia Wang with any questions about LAC program.

Pitt ranks 43rd in U.S. News global rankings

Originally published in University Times, Oct. 20, 2020

Pitt is in pretty good company — tied at 43rd with the Sorbonne University in Paris — in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report global universities rankings, which were released this week.

In addition, Pitt ranked in the top 20 in several medical field: Surgery (3); infectious diseases (13); clinical medicine (18); and psychiatry/psychology (20). See the full subject rankings here.

The top five global universities were: Harvard, Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Stanford, University of Oxford and Columbia.

Carnegie Mellon University ranked 94th overall, while Penn State was 75th.

Nearly 1,500 institutions spread across 86 countries were included in the seventh annual rankings. The ranks are based on the schools’ academic research performance and global and regional reputations, according to U.S. News & World Report.

— Susan Jones

Challenges We Must Face - A Message from Vice Provost Ariel Armony to the UCIS Community

As this group knows well, the killing of George Floyd didn’t happen in a vacuum and didn’t reveal anything new. It brutally expressed, once again, the vicious realities of racism, xenophobia, sexism, police violence and the impunity with which it operates, and social injustices that characterize this country’s past and present.

It is important to reiterate our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We also know, however, that there is a wide gulf between words and action. Change is difficult, messy, and often uncomfortable. It requires our willingness to be honest, to keep fighting, and to stand back up in the face of temporary defeat.

The dehumanization of so many based on race/ethnicity, gender/sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, national origin, and socioeconomic status has become a recurrent component of our reality in the United States and around the world. In a chronic, shameful way, we often become numb to this despicable reality; at times, that numbness gives way to rage. Still, I am inspired to see the outpouring of protests and condemnations nationwide and I am hopeful this will pave the way for real and necessary change.

I am proud of all the work we do as a center and as a university. I urge everyone to take the time they need for their own mental well-being and encourage you to keep fighting for what we know to be just and right.

Best,
Ariel

Ariel C. Armony (he, him, his)
Vice Provost for Global Affairs
Director, University Center for International Studies
Professor of Public & International Affairs and Political Science

United States-China: The clock is ticking, but there’s still time to reset the relationship

By Ariel Armony
(Originally published in the Spanish in La Nación, "EE.UU.-China: el reloj corre, pero aún queda un espacio para resetear la relación," July 25, 2020)

Eleven years ago, I taught at the prestigious University of Nankai in China through the Fulbright Scholar Program. In one of my classes, I asked the students if they believed that economic development leads to democracy. My question sparked a rare, lucid, and optimistic debate about the future of China.

Today, the question would not make sense. In the last ten years, China’s political system has become much more authoritarian despite its economic growth.

Furthermore, I would not even be able to ask the question. The Trump Administration abruptly eliminated the Fulbright Scholar Program to China.

My stay in Tianjin, Beijing, and other cities allowed me to build an invaluable network of contacts and collaborators. Nevertheless, in the last year, I’ve had to focus my attention, as the leader of a global university, on developing mechanisms in order to protect our scientific research, intellectual property, and cybersecurity when working with institutions in China.

Has a Cold War started between the U.S. and China?

Whether we call it a Cold War­­—confrontation or continuation­­­­—the reality is that the bilateral relationship between the superpowers is collapsing. The most pressing question is, how intense will the conflict between the two countries become in the coming years?

The areas of conflict are wide-ranging and complicated. To wit: they range from the commercial war to the 5G network, tensions over the coronavirus, accusations of stealing scientific research, the military escalation in the South China Sea, the autonomy of Hong Kong, the deterioration of relations between China and Australia, and all the way to the cooperation and incorporation of China and Russia in Eurasia. Not to mention Taiwan, Iran, India, Venezuela, Africa, Europe, the new Silk Road Initiative, the situation with the Uyghurs, and the Chinese investments in infrastructure all over the world. As if it were not enough, the statements coming from high ranking Trump Administration officials characterize China as the greatest threat to U.S. national security and the economy.

Whether or not China awaits the eventual extinction of western capitalism, as has been said at the highest levels of government in Washington, is less important than whether tensions will heat up quickly, raising anxieties while destroying what’s left of their mutual trust.

The United States accuses China of having abused the open system of global competition created after World War II. China supposedly used its closed internal system to take advantage of their participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other multilateral organizations. Simultaneously, for many, the illusion that market democracy could contain Chinese expansionism has disappeared. The combination of both perspectives leads us to the conclusion that we are in a new era of competition between the superpowers.

China and the United States embody two economic models within the capitalist scheme. And yes, they also represent two political models. Competition between a liberal democracy and a one-party system takes on a peculiar significance when the established democracies exhibit characteristics that are increasingly autocratic and the number of new autocracies outpaces new democracies for the first time since 2001.

From this point of view, this moment smells a lot like McCarthyism. The preoccupations about North American universities being threatened by evil agents, the general air of suspicion, the questioning of loyalties to the U.S., and the hostile attitudes toward individuals of Chinese origin have all filtered into North American culture. This context has created an exaggerated sense of vulnerability.

Nevertheless, strident declarations and scenarios that paint images of a future dominated by Chinese communism, China’s nuclear and military capacity, its indisputable expansionism, and the end of the U.S.’s global monopoly (adding to its own profound internal crisis), do not bode well for the future.

When thinking about the future of the conflict between China and the U.S. we must remember three things. First, China cannot be changed. Second, it cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, China must maintain its place in the global commercial order and China needs the U.S. in order to reach the levels of innovation and scientific advancement that will mark their future. This combination of elements suggests that there is apossibility to conceive of a new framework for mutual trust. The clock is ticking, but there’s still time to reset the relationship.

 

The author is the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

[English translation by Jessica Craft, Center for Latin American Studies]

Colombian Seminar on Latin American-Asian Relations

On November 13, Redintercol and the Program of Studies of the Pacific Alliance (PEAP) at Universidad Icesi hosted a seminar called “The Colombian Pacific and the Asia-Pacific Region: Challenges and Opportunities.”

The seminar focused on the important factors in the bourgeoning, evolving relationships among nations in Asia and Latin America. A multifaceted, sub-national perspective was shared by a panel of international experts.

They keynote speech was presented by Dr. Ariel Armony, Vice Provost of Global Affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Armony’s areas of focus include the changing role of China in Latin America, the globalization of cities, and innovation in international education. He is also a member of the Asia and the Americas section of the Latin American Studies Association. Dr. Armony will be accompanied by Dr. Adriana Roldan, Director of the Asia-Pacific Studies Center of Universidad EAFIT, and Dr. Alejandro Ossa, Director of InvestPacific investment agency. Both participants have extensive experience in the study and practical work between Asian countries and countries in Latin America. The seminar will be moderated by Dr. Vladimir Rouvinski, co-chair of the Asia and Americas Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

University of Pittsburgh Again in Top 50 Global Universities

The following first ran in Pittwire, October 29, 2019:

The University of Pittsburgh was again named among the world’s top 50 universities in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities rankings. Pitt landed at No. 47, tied with University of Minnesota.

In the latest ranking, the magazine evaluated a list of the world’s top 1,500 universities — which includes institutions from the U.S. and more than 80 other countries. The universities were rated based on 13 different indicators measuring their academic research performance and their global and regional reputations.

Several Pitt programs ranked in the top 50 by subject, including Surgery at No. 3, Clinical Medicine at No. 18 and Psychiatry/Psychology at No. 19.

Other programs in the top 50 are:

  • No. 23: Neuroscience and Behavior
  • No. 23: Oncology
  • No. 34: Pharmacology and Toxicology (tied with University of Pennsylvania)
  • No. 36: Arts and Humanities
  • No. 39: Immunology
  • No. 42: Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • No. 49: Microbiology (tied with University of Toronto)

Pitt students come from 108 countries and all 50 states, in addition to the U.S. Territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Internationally, most students come from China, India and Korea. The Pitt Study Abroad program sends more than 1,800 students per year across its five campuses to over 350 programs in more than 75 countries on six continents. The university has also ranked among the top producers of Fulbright U.S. Students.

Pitt continues to be recognized as a top university in many areas. Read more about Pitt's achievements.