By Jane R. Elgass
The establishment of an Institute for Foreign Area and International Studies (IFAIS) within the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and a reorganization of the Office of International Academic Affairs (OIAA) have been announced by Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr., LS&A Dean Edie N. Goldenberg, and John H. D’Arms, vice provost for academic affairs.
“These plans represent significant developments in the University’s internationalization initiatives,” Whitaker says. “These steps are being taken as a result of two studies that focused on area and international studies within LS&A and on the links between LS&A and the University’s professional schools in these fields.
“Both study groups recommended changes in the way we organize area and international studies and that we provide additional investment if the University is to maintain its leadership role in these important areas and be able to respond energetically to changing intellectual agendas and funding opportunities,” Whitaker explains.
The institute will bring together the University’s five area studies centers—Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, East European Studies, and South and Southeast Asian Studies.
The Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Program in Western European Studies, the Center for Research on Economic Development and the Office of International Programs (which handles study-abroad opportunities) also will be part of the institute. The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies will be affiliated with the Institute.
Whitaker says new centers or programs “may be added to the purview of the institute as interests develop in other areas of the world.”
Goldenberg notes that the institute “will promote coordinated planning, which will enable LS&A and the University to respond more quickly and imaginatively to new opportunities in the international area, encourage joint initiatives involving several programs and facilitate scholarship and teaching in foreign area and international studies.
“The institute is a marvelous means for us to encourage more comparative work and more associations between LS&A and the professional schools, which so far have happened by chance in many instances,” Goldenberg notes. “It represents a significant investment in and strengthening of our international programs. This is an appropriate step to take, in view of the changing geography of the world. It will give us greater flexibility in addressing areas of concern that cross disciplinary boundaries.”
A search will be launched in the near future for an institute director. The search committee chair is history Prof. Frederick Cooper.
Whitaker says the group will look for an individual “who is an outstanding scholar, who can provide the vision and leadership needed by the new institute, and who can serve as a principal spokesperson for area and international studies within LS&A.”
The institute will be governed by the director and an administrative committee whose membership will include the directors of the area centers and faculty from other units connected with the institute.
LS&A Associate Dean John R. Chamberlin will serve as interim director and will guide the planning efforts to be undertaken this year. This work will be supported by the institute’s administrative committee and Marilyn S. Fries, assistant to the LS&A dean for international activities.
Whitaker says the OIAA “will continue to play an important central role in promoting strategic thinking about internationalization throughout the University, in providing coordination for the visits of international scholars and others, in insuring appropriate University communications and contacts with various governmental agencies and other universities, and in distributing funds that support internationalization efforts across the campus.”
D’Arms, who also is dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, will be responsible for the OIAA. (The position of interim vice president for international affairs, formerly held by Harold K. Jacobson, will be terminated.)
D’Arms says the “formal relationship between the LS&A institute and my office is quite distinctive. It will improve communications and widen everyone’s perspective of what is or might be considered ‘international.’ Together, the institute and OIAA will promote and encourage international activities that cross school and college boundaries.”
According to Goldenberg, the first task facing the IFAIS “will be the strengthening of links between the area studies centers, LS&A departments, and other schools and colleges. An important ingredient in this process is strengthening our commitment to faculty appointments in area and international studies.”
To accomplish this, the number of faculty positions in these areas will be increased in three ways over the next several years:
—25 positions in LS&A are earmarked for faculty with interests in area studies; five more will be designated for area and international studies.
—Other schools and colleges will be encouraged to earmark existing positions for area and international studies.
—Through reallocations, Whitaker’s office will provide at least 12 incremental positions to be used to support area and international studies across the University.
Whitaker says the model for these positions will be a joint appointment in an LS&A department and an appropriate professional school, with IFAIS affiliation.
“These appointments will play a vital role in establishing new relationships among existing units and in laying the foundation for future growth and activities that maintain and enhance the University’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading institutions in area and international studies,” Whitaker says.
Both the institute and the OIAA will share an executive committee that will consist of at least three LS&A faculty members and at least three faculty from other schools and colleges. The committee will provide a University perspective and policy guidance for the two programs.