Big Bucks for FLAS: Foreign Language and Area Studies at the U and BYU Get $6.8 Million


(Photo by Hailey Danielson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Aila Amer


The University of Utah and Brigham Young University have both been awarded $6.8 million from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant has been given in support of language study and international education for the next four years.

The goal of this grant is to provide funding for the Latin American Studies and the Asia Center. Along with BYU compeers, it will designate $4.6 million to student scholarships.

Covering undergraduate student and graduate student scholarships, the grant will allow more students to pursue the study of language and international education. Funds serve as a cover of tuition and stipends. The grant will help students gain border access regardless of a student’s financial standing.

Anh Cao, a student who is studying international studies and economics at the U, told Deseret News that foreign language and area studies had helped her to branch out more with both her education and career goals.

“I’ve been able to gain so much more with my education here at the U with different classroom experiences, international travel and mentors because of FLAS,” Cao told Deseret News.

Cao wants to work in business consulting or law. With the help of the U, Cao has found her passion: to help countries that have not been fully developed yet.

Claudio Holzner, director of Latin American studies and the associate professor in the Department of Political Science, said, “The Center of Latin American studies at the University of Utah and the Asia Center here and BYU both applied to the title six and seed grants to the U.S. Department of Education. We did apply this consortium with Brigham Young University.”

Holzner also expanded on the differences between grants.

“There are two different grants and two different partnerships between the Latin studies programs. This grant designates us as a national resource center for Latin American studies,” Holzner said.

Money from the grant will go to various departments.

“We get funds to strengthen our language programs so we are able to offer good language instruction at the U of U, especially to not common languages such as Portuguese and more. The grants also give us about $3,000 a year in scholarship funds to support both undergraduate and graduate students,” Holzner said.

Languages that are eligible for the scholarship include Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, Ecuadorian Quechua, Hindi-Urdu, Japanese, Korean, Nahuatl, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Vietnamese.

BYU may be the U’s rival in sports, but both are actively working towards providing the best possible education to their students.

“BYU also does the same thing and they offer about 200 scholarships a year. We share some initiatives with BYU and we make sure to cover the costs of speakers and other things, part of the grant supports K-12 students to strengthen their capacity in Latin American studies. We also formed a partnership with the dull language emerge program in Utah,” Holzner said.

Learning branches outside of the classroom.

“We support the development of curriculum, teacher training and we run summer camps for Portuguese students at the University of Utah. We also share courses. We currently share Quechua at BYU and Unversity of Utah, which is a language in Peru. It’s a four-year grant we received now and will have it till 2022. Our goal is to collaborate as much as possible and expand more,” Holzner said.

Together, the U and BYU are able to bring their students to new heights.

Jeffrey Shamway, the coordinator of Latin American studies at Brigham Young University, said, “We applied together and we are glad we did because we are now able to get funds for languages.”

The collaboration keeps going as students work together as well.  

“At both of the universities, this fund is for less commonly spoken languages, and the collaboration is really good because some of our students take classes together. For example, the are Getchwa course is taught by a shared professor,” Shamway said.

Shamway is optimistic towards where students benefiting from the grant will go.

“The funding is for a few things, and we want to get the best out of it. Together University of Utah and Brigham Young University can build up Latin American studies and in the region between Salt Lake Valley and Utah Valley and become a national resource center. We hope to produce students that will be a great resource in public sector, state, national and also nonprofit. We want to be a help for Latin American studies and our hopes are that we build up the program thanks to this grant, and become a giant for in this language teaching. We are fortunate to be the two titles known as title six between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.”

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