LaGuardia Community College Receives UISFL Grant in Support of International Studies Program

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (October 11, 2023) — LaGuardia Community College/CUNY was recently awarded an Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program, a two-year grant in the amount of $176,134.65. The UISFL program is part of the U.S. Department of Education, which provides funds to plan, develop, and carry out programs to strengthen and improve undergraduate instruction in international studies and foreign languages.

The grant supports the project titled “The Community College Internationalization Initiative: Outreach, Pedagogy and Professional Development in International Studies.” Dr. Maria Savva, a professor in Education and Language Acquisition (ELA), is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the grant, and is supported by co-PIs Dr. Arthur Lau (ELA), Dr. Tomonori Nagano (ELA), Dr. Olga Aksakalova (English), and Dr. Anita Baksh (ELA).

Located in one of the most diverse boroughs of New York City, LaGuardia has students who come from 150 different countries and speak 77 different languages. Many of these students are low-income, minority, immigrant, and first­ generation college students. The project looks to leverage and expand opportunities for these students through four global engagement pathways that focus on internationalization at the programmatic, departmental, and college-wide levels.

Dr. Savva said there are four goals that the team plans to achieve as part of this initiative:

“One of our goals is to grow the International Studies Program by providing multi-year professional development to academic advisors to gain a deeper understanding of the International Studies Program, its courses, student transfer options and possible career trajectories,” Dr. Savva said. “We plan to collaborate closely with ASAP, Advising and the Center for Career and Professional Development to incorporate at least three college-wide co-curricular events that explore International Studies career pathways and promote participation in the Critical Language Scholarship and the Gilman Scholarship. This goal includes compiling a comprehensive database of job banks that specialize in careers relevant to International Studies.”

The second goal will offer credit-bearing Less Commonly Taught Language (LCTL) courses to high school students in the College Now/Early College Initiative Program. Dr. Lau said “To achieve this, the group will partner with these city-wide programs to offer college credits to high school seniors who complete college-level LCTL courses in Arabic or Bengali. Both Arabic and Bengali are high demand languages in the US Foreign Service and some students in the community already possess fluency.”

“We plan to provide preparatory training to instructors who will be teaching early college courses,” Dr. Nagano said. “We also plan to organize two LCTL student showcases to give students an opportunity to share what they have learned.”

The third goal is to integrate Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and UN Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs). “A total of 10 faculty members will implement a new series of COIL modules in their courses that will focus on one or more UN Sustainable Development Goals.” said Professors Aksakalova and Baksh, Co-Chairs of the College-wide COIL Committee in the English Department. “We will organize two annual COIL Student Showcases and a career workshop for students who participated in COIL projects. The project will contribute towards building a global alumni network of COIL participants to be used as a student resource.”

Finally, the fourth goal aims to develop a strategic plan for internationalization using a Comprehensive Internationalization Framework to analyze internationalization efforts at the departmental, divisional, and college-wide levels. The framework will consider leadership and structure, curriculum and co-curriculum, faculty and staff support, mobility, partnerships, institutional commitment, and policy.

“We hope this project will help LaGuardia’s efforts in serving its diverse student population on a global scale,” said Dr. Savva.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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