Newsroom

Pitt International Centers Secure More Than $7 Million for Research, Language Acquisition, and Community Engagement

The University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh announced today that its Asian Studies CenterEuropean Studies Center, and Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies have received more than $7 million of funding from the United States Department of Education and other sources to expand the reach of their international work.

The three centers received a total of six awards under Title VI of the Higher Education Act, resulting in National Resource Center designation and Foreign Language Areas Studies (FLAS) fellowships for each, representing more than $5.1 million in funding over four years. The Title VI awards support innovative research, language acquisition, and community engagement initiatives.

“The University of Pittsburgh is a force in global education and engagement,” said Ariel Armony, vice provost of global affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies. “The National Resource Center designation and other funding reflects our commitment to taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt.”

Dr. Armony noted that pursuing a wide range of funding for Pitt’s international centers is an important component of making global engagement a part of every student’s experience and expanding University partnerships around the globe.

“The Plan for Pitt calls all of us to embrace the world,” says Dr. Armony. “The University Center for International Studies is the hub for Pitt’s many centers and programs working toward this important goal.”

In addition to the Title VI National Resource Center and FLAS Fellowship funding, Pitt’s Asian Studies Center received grants totaling more than $900,000 in 2018, including significant funding from the Freeman Foundation for the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA). Directed by Department of Anthropology Professor Joseph Alter, the Asian Studies Center offers a range of innovative programs for educators including seminars, short courses, and summer study tours of China for K-12 teachers. The 2018 NCTA grant, the 15th awarded to the Pitt center, allows it to expand Asian studies offerings to serve educators in 11 states.

Pitt’s European Studies Center recently received grants from both the European Union and the European Union Delegation to the U.S.  Led by Associate Professor of Political Science Jae-Jae Spoon, the center’s 2018 awards provide an additional $573,000 and include a grant leveraging Pitt’s growing partnerships on urban and energy-related research with three universities in Europe: Newcastle University (United Kingdom); L’Institut des Études Politiques (Sciences Po Lyon, France); and L’Université Jean Monnet Saint-Étienne (France). The funding allows new collaborations among the three universities and Pitt’s Department of Political Science, Urban Studies Program, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) and Swanson School of Engineering’s Center for Energy. In other center news, the European Union recently renewed the European Studies Center’s prestigious designation as a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence in EU Studies, a distinction the center has held since 1998.

In addition to the Title VI National Resource Center and FLAS Fellowship funding, Pitt’s Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies this year received major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Security Agency (NSA). Led by Slavic Languages & Literatures Professor Nancy Condee, the center secured more than $1.1 million in grant funding to advance research, language training, and other programs.

The NEH Humanities Connections project will develop an interdisciplinary series of undergraduate courses and linked co-curricular experiences on the theme of “Water in Central Asia,” engaging multiple arts and sciences departments and professional schools across Pitt. The DoD-funded Project GO program will provide intensive summer Russian language training to ROTC students from universities throughout the U.S., to be conducted both at the Summer Language Institute on Pitt’s campus and on a custom-designed study abroad program hosted by Narva College in Estonia. Finally, the NSA-funded STARTALK program will provide a four-week summer residential program in Russian language on Pitt’s campus for 20 high school students, the majority of whom will be recruited from schools serving minority and lower-income populations in Chicago and the greater Pittsburgh area.

A Message from Vice Provost Armony

This weekend’s shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue has shaken many of us to the core, as it shook our university and our city. It is truly painful to see a hate crime committed here in Pittsburgh, one of the most progressive, accepting communities that I have had the privilege to be a part of.

Yet it is already clear that Pittsburgh will persevere in the face of this tragedy. We are resilient, and we are united, as Mayor Bill Peduto so aptly says of the Pittsburgh community.

Here at the University of Pittsburgh, we have resources available to students, faculty, and staff impacted in any way by the tragic events. We are a family, and we support each other. Please take a look to the helpful University and community resources that are available to you anytime. And please know that my door is always open to you if you wish to talk.

Most Sincerely,

Ariel C. Armony

International Week at the University of Pittsburgh

Join us for a weeklong celebration of all things international at the University of Pittsburgh. International Week honors international programs and research; students who travel the globe or come here for their education; faculty members and Pitt alumni who are making important contributions across the world; and more. View the International Week schedule of events.

Statement on SCOTUS Decision Concerning Executive Order Restricting Travel

On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that President Trump’s executive order restricting travel to the United States is constitutional. In a statement responding to the order, the University of Pittsburgh expresses its commitment to an inclusive environment and its pride in the students, faculty, and staff from countries outside the United States. Read the full statement at https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/main/scotus-exec-order.

More resources on U. S. Immigration Policy Changes can be found at https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/main/resources.

French, Danish, UK Partnerships Advance Research, Education Endeavors

The University of Pittsburgh strengthened its existing partnerships with European institutes with a trans-Atlantic trip in April by Pitt officials, including Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, to renew agreements with Newcastle University in England and universities in France.

“Partnerships like the ones we have in Europe and other countries across the world are beneficial not only for the University of Pittsburgh’s research efforts, but also for our students and faculty, who get a taste of each country’s unique academic offerings through our exchange programs. In turn, students and faculty from these partner institutions also get a taste of the city of Pittsburgh’s culture,” said Ariel ArmonyUniversity Center for International Studies director and vice provost for global affairs, who traveled with the chancellor, as well as with European Studies Center Director Jae-Jae Spoon and Associate Director Allyson Delnore.

Along with this recent visit, Pitt, the City of Pittsburgh and the Danish Energy Agency in March entered into a partnership to collaborate on energy planning and research.

Newcastle University

Pitt entered into an agreement in 2016 with Newcastle University in the United Kingdom for an undergraduate student exchange program, allowing one student per year on either side to study at the partner institution for one semester or one year.

The agreement between Pitt and Newcastle University was renewed in April, signifying the strength of the partnership to explore new avenues for cooperation across several disciplines. To date, there have been a dozen exchanges of faculty and graduate students who have conducted research in history, chemistry, physics, Latin American studies and engineering and shale policy. While abroad, the scholars participate in public engagement activities, teaching projects and staff and student exchanges.

“Though an ocean divides us, the similarities between Newcastle University and the University of Pittsburgh are compelling and clear,” said Gallagher. “I am grateful for our shared values — and the warm welcome we’ve received — and I look forward to continuing to work together to change the world in powerful and positive ways.” 

Partnerships in France

In France, Pitt has had agreements with INSA Lyon; Sciences Po Lyon; University of Lyon II and Université Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne, since 2013. The programs include the fields of film studies, European Union studies, urban studies, engineering and policy studies related to energy.

Pitt, Sciences Po Lyon and Université Jean Monnet will exchange study tours of graduate students and faculty working on urban development and policymaking within a wider research network. Their focus, on cities and energy, will be coordinated by Pitt’s European Studies Center.

Pitt’s Study Abroad Office and Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures are working with Lyon II to develop a comprehensive Pitt in Lyon Panther Program, which will be the main study-abroad site for Pitt students of French at every level, from beginning to advanced. This program is designed so that Pitt students will be able to complete general education requirements in French or English while pursuing French language studies and experiencing life in France.

Discussions have also begun with INSA Lyon to open up new, to-be-determined internship opportunities to Pitt students. In addition, coursework options in trans-Atlantic studies with Sciences Po Lyon are in the works.

Lastly, Lyon II has an existing faculty exchange program where French film professors teach courses for a semester at Pitt, and Pitt faculty teach film courses for a semester in Lyon. Mark Lynn Anderson, director of graduate studies for the Pitt Film and Media Studies Program, and Lyon film professor Sébastien David are set to participate this fall.

“This (faculty exchange) program lets our students have a cultural exchange without needing to travel and vice versa,” said David Pettersen, associate professor of French and film and media studies at Pitt, who taught in Lyon in 2015 as part of the program. “The French higher education system has a much different model of teaching that’s more professor-driven and more about expertise sharing. I brought in the American, conversational, dialogue-driven style of pedagogy that French students hadn’t had the chance to experience.”

So far, the exchange has been limited to faculty, but there are plans to include students from both institutions starting in spring 2019.

Danish Energy Agency

Another new collaboration promises to take shape in Pittsburgh itself as well.

At the University’s Energy GRID Institute in March, Mayor Bill Peduto, Danish ambassador to the U.S. Lars Gert Lose and Gregory Reed, director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute, signed an agreement to build an exchange between Pittsburgh’s energy decision-makers and Danish experts to develop more sustainable, low-cost and resilient energy systems.

Copenhagen and Pittsburgh will share best practices in energy design, and Danish experts will offer details of Denmark’s energy initiatives for application to the Pittsburgh region. A future goal is to enhance the implementation of community microgrids for both thermal and electric power supply to parts of the region.

In addition, the University plans to provide its own energy experts through its Center for Energy, housed in the Swanson School of Engineering, and the GRID Institute, to collaborate with the Danes and the city. Pitt’s plans also include helping to build a data-driven model to increase sustainability for the city without creating financial burden, Reed said. 

“Not only will this partnership help to cement Pitt’s work in district energy and microgrids, it will also afford us the opportunity to attract further investment towards projects in the city itself, which is needed for deploying more resilient, clean and intelligent energy infrastructures,” said Reed.

Read the PittWire story.

Teaching Center Helps Students in Sicily Create 360-degree Tours of Archaeological Sites

Standing among the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater of Siracusa in Sicily — an island just south of Italy — Pitt senior Jonathan Dyer gives a tour of what was once one of the area’s largest gladiator arenas. He points out the warrior’s main entrance at the southern end, a pit for holding beasts and machinery in the center, the main road leading into the theater hidden by brush just beyond Dyer’s left shoulder.

The tour is part of a YouTube series produced by Pitt undergraduates during the 2017 Pitt in Sicily Study Abroad Program. From a brief history of the City of Catania to a tour of the Temple of Segesta, viewers experience close-up views of some of Sicily’s most historic locations.

The series originated as a project for founder and Department of Classics professor Jacques A. Bromberg’s Greek Archaeology course as part of Pitt in Sicily. As with Bromberg’s past Sicilian excursions, a research paper on a specific archaeological site was required. But for the first time in 2017, Pitt’s Open Lab, an on-campus makerspace, complemented the students’ efforts with 360-degree cameras and long-distance tech support. Allowing for full panoramic views of the sites, these cameras turned a standard research assignment into a unique learning experience for the students and for viewers worldwide. 

“Sicily is a beautiful place to live and learn. A simple research paper would not have done justice to the city or the sites we studied,” said Dyer, a Chancellor’s Scholar from Rexburg, Idaho, who is pursuing degrees in mathematics and computer science. “The cameras definitely added a different dimension to the project, pushing us to think more visually about the space that we were presenting on.”

Staff members within the Open Lab, a part of Pitt’s University Center for Teaching and Learning, provided assistance remotely from the Oakland campus. Aaron Graham, the Open Lab’s manager and a 2001 film studies alumnus, said, “We were never more than one email away. We take pride in our ability to
be a readily accessible resource for the Pitt community.”

In the months prior to the Sicilian excursion, Open Lab staff and instructional designers met extensively with Bromberg. After intensive brainstorming, they decided that evolving the trip’s research and writing assignment into a series of microdocumentaries — in the spirit of The New York Times’ The Daily 360 Series — would give that project a creative edge.

Bromberg has an extensive history with the island of Sicily, having studied there as an undergraduate and throughout his professional career. He says he created Pitt in Sicily in 2016, part of Pitt Study Abroad, to give students the same rich cultural experiences he has enjoyed.

“Sicily is ideal for introducing young people to the classical world and falling in love with all things ancient. The art, the culture, the history, it is just an exquisite place,” said Bromberg, who is currently preparing for the 2018 Pitt in Sicily excursion, scheduled for May. “Having the support of a highly skilled group of professionals within our University community was essential to the program’s success. I am enormously grateful to the Open Lab’s staff for helping make Pitt in Sicily a special experience for our students.”

In addition to 360-degree cameras, the Open Lab team has been supporting academic projects with 3D printersvirtual reality systems and related equipment. Graham views the projects as representative of the Open Lab’s
efforts to leverage technology and work collaboratively with the Pitt community to enhance teaching and learning.

“We recognize that the work of faculty members is much more than just their jobs. Their academic pursuits here at Pitt touch deeply into facets of their personal lives, and they care very deeply about these endeavors as well as the experiences of their students,” said Graham. “Our team is committed to finding new and exciting ways to make those experiences as meaningful as possible.”

UCIS Attends the Pitt Event "Who Run the World?"

As the doors of the William Pitt Union lower lounge opened at 8 p.m., about 150 students poured in to learn about the experiences of women in other
countries.

The event, Who Run the World?, was part of Pitt’s annual Women’s Empowerment Week hosted by Student Government Board. The week will see several events throughout the week about women’s empowerment, with this one focusing on international aspect of female empowerment. Students visited booths put together by various student organizations, such as Pitt Global Ties, Girl Up, the Asian Studies Center and the University Center for International Studies — all organizations related to international programs at Pitt. Participants could also join in on salsa and belly dancing lessons.

Sarah LaBouliere, a junior communication and English major, represented Girl Up — an organization founded by the United Nations Foundation to educate and empower girls around the world — at one of the tables.

“We have six focus countries and five focus pillars,” LaBouliere said. “Our countries include countries like India and Uganda, and our focus pillars include things like health and education.”

LaBouliere got involved with Girl Up in the spring of 2016 when the Pitt chapter was founded. Girl Up was involved in last year’s Women’s Empowerment Week, co-sponsoring a film viewing for “Girl Rising,” which follows the stories of girls in countries the organization is involved in.

“We knew we wanted to have a bigger hand this year, and we brainstormed this event because we’re so focused on countries around the world and womanhood and girlhood, and we thought, ‘What if we could get other organizations involved?’” LaBouliere said.

They succeeded in bringing other groups aimed at global empowerment to participate this year, such as Global Ties.

Madhu Mahesh, a junior psychology and gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, and Lucy Chiem, a senior psychology major, represented Global Ties, which hosts cultural immersion trips allowing both international and domestic students to visit different locations within the United States. Past trip destinations included Denver, Washington, D.C., and Lancaster.

“We do a lot of global and culturally aware programming, and they reached out to us to talk about the global and international culture things on campus that can pertain to women.” Mahesh said.

Global Ties also hosts speakers from organizations within Pitt to bring awareness to the cultural opportunities and resources that are available.

“For international students, sometimes they don’t really know where to start for various resources, and so we open the doors to that,” Mahesh said.

Jennie O’Donaghue, a senior urban studies and Spanish major, attended the event as an ambassador for the UCIS, which grants certificates to
students who have studied specific regions of the world, including Asia, Africa and Europe.

“[They] try to make Pitt students more globally competent, so each of the centers has their own certificate and related concentration that you can do,” she said. “It’s just something that you can add to your major or something like that if you’re interested in the world.”

O’Donaghue is completing a certificate in Latin American studies. She has studied abroad and completed internships through the program. Though she knows most people get involved with the certificate programs early in their college careers, she didn’t join until she was a junior. She has had no problem with the certificate and said some students might not know they’ve even completed one.

“It’s actually pretty common to accidentally complete a certificate,” she said.

The University Center for International Studies was asked to attend the event because of its international theme.

Aubrey Masters, a sophomore studying pre-social work, attended because she is a member of sorority Delta Zeta — which belongs to the Collegiate Panhellenic Association, a Greek life collective that co-sponsors Women’s Empowerment Week.

“Sorority life partners with and promotes the whole event,” Masters said. “My sisters and I are very busy, but we had 40-plus [people] stop by to check it out.”

University of Pittsburgh Establishes New Relationship with Indian Council for Cultural Relations

The University of Pittsburgh and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a
new ICCR Chair of Indian Studies at Pitt for the next five years.

Pitt Chancellor Emeritus and Chair of the University’s Institute of Politics Mark Nordenberg represented Pitt at the ICCR headquarters in New Delhi on November 13, 2017, for the signing of the MOU. Representing the ICCR was Indian Director General Riva Ganguly Das.

The ICCR is an autonomous organization of the Government of India that works with some of the most prominent cultural organizations in the world to promote a wider understanding of Indian culture and history.  The ICCR Chair program seats preeminent faculty from Indian universities at prominent universities across the globe in order to support the development of India Studies.  Additionally, the organization supports a large number of cultural programs and academic conferences. Pitt’s ICCR Chair will be one of the first established in the United States.

The establishment of this chair is a direct link to the Pitt Global Professorships initiative detailed as part of Embracing the World: A Global Plan for Pitt. The ICCR will work with Pitt to annually invite a scholar from either the social sciences or the humanities from a leading Indian university to work with Pitt faculty and students.

The University continues to develop its relationship with India and, in recent years, has welcomed prominent Indian government officials to campus, including Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed “MJ” Akbar in 2014 and Director General Das in 2016.

In 2016, the University created a South Asia Initiative to facilitate communication and collaboration between students and faculty and to provide opportunities for more active engagement with the local community.

The signing of the MOU took place during a weeklong trip to India by Pitt representatives, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Trade Office, in an effort to build stronger ties that will benefit the University, the Commonwealth, and the United States.

“India is already a great trade partner with the United States and Pennsylvania, but trips like this are integral to building ties that will result in both deeper existing and new partnerships,” Nordenberg said.  “Thanks to our strong alumni network, the University can offer introductions to business and governmental leaders that other trade missions might not be able to access.”

A team of five visited New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. In each city the delegation of Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs; Mark Nordenberg; Sanjeev Shroff, distinguished professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in bioengineering; Joseph Alter,  professor of anthropology; and Jason Kane, director of constituent relations; met with universities, representatives from private companies, and influential Pitt alumni in an effort to build new economic bonds and strengthen those already in place.

The trip was coordinated with the Pennsylvania Trade and Investment Office – India. The office works in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to strengthen business ties between Pennsylvania and India.

While in India, the team also visited the Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Healthcare (WISH Foundation) founded by Sunil Wadhwani of Presto, Pa., and the Science Health Allied Research Education (SHARE) at MediCiti (International Medical Science City) founded by Sudhakar Pesara “P.S.” Reddy, MD, of UPMC.

Those on the trip had the opportunity to network with Pitt alumni living in India at a social event in each city, where Nordenberg and Armony offered an update on the University and its growing commitment to internationalization.

“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity to take our engagement with India to new, exciting levels,” said Armony. “In building
strong, strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships with India, we underscore our goal of taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt.”

More than 500 Pitt Alumni call India home. There are an additional 484 students from India currently attending Pitt, which is second only to China.

Nationally Recognized for Internationalization

The University of Pittsburgh was one of only four institutions nationwide to receive the 2017 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization.

The Simon Awards are given by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Named for the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, the award recognizes colleges and universities that are making significant, well-planned, well-executed and well-documented progress toward integrating international education throughout all facets of a university campus.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher accepted the award on behalf of the University in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2017—during International Education Week.

“We truly believe that teaching and learning know no boundaries, and that the University of Pittsburgh’s robust international platform benefits students, faculty members and society at large,” says Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Our mission — to improve the world through knowledge — is one that we support through a rich catalog of study abroad opportunities, a vibrant community of international scholars and a deep commitment to tackling issues affecting people and communities across the world.”

The other recipients of the 2017 Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization are Florida State University, University of Iowa and Santa Monica College. 

View the 2017 Simon Award presidential panel here: youtu.be/emczq4KvMkg

University of Pittsburgh Reaches Six Continents in Day of Giving Fund Drive

In a single day, students, parents, faculty, staff and other University of Pittsburgh supporters generated $9 million-plus for scholarships, research and both academic and student activities, Pitt officials announced Monday.

Read the full story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.