Penn State selected as National Resource Center for global studies

University Park, Pa. — A new federal grant will launch a Global Studies Institute at Penn State that will help design, coordinate and advance several University initiatives that promote a global outlook. Penn State will receive a Title VI National Resource Center grant totaling more than $830,000 over four years from the U.S. Department of Education. This award marks the first time that Penn State has received Title VI NRC funding in a highly competitive grants process and represents national recognition of the impressive growth of Penn State’s engagement with international research, education and outreach.

In addition, the new Global Studies Institute will support the teaching of selected foreign languages as well as area studies, like other Title VI NRC centers. The Global Studies Institute is being co-directed by Sophia McClennen, associate professor of comparative literature, Spanish and women’s studies from College of the Liberal Arts, and Denis Fred Simon, professor of international affairs, from the School of International Affairs. The institute will be housed in the School of Languages and Literatures in the College of the Liberal Arts.

GSI Co-Director Denis Simon noted, “Both Sophia and I see this NRC award as an important strategic mechanism for helping to further weave a global perspective into the Penn State learning environment. We believe that the inception of the Global Studies Institute, in partnership with other Penn State initiatives that reflect the University’s outstanding internationalism to date, will herald a new, dynamic level of internationally focused, interdisciplinary academic activity and grantmanship on our campus.”

Four core themes will guide many of the institute’s activities: Global Technology, Global Media, Global Rights and Global Frontiers, reflecting the existing faculty expertise and strengths of many colleges and departments at Penn State. For example, this fall, the Institute will help support a global technology workshop on China’s impact on the global innovation system, led by Simon, a specialist in the field, and Erich Schienke, assistant professor in the Science, Technology and Society Program, who is studying Chinese ecological science and environmental governance. Another example is a global media program combining a series of lectures and a symposium on language and violence with a team-taught graduate seminar, coordinated by the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. This effort will be led by McClennen, who studies comparative media and cultural studies and Latin America, and Jeremy Engels, assistant professor communication arts and sciences, who teaches courses on the rhetoric of war and peace. Similarly, Penn State faculty and students at all locations will be invited to join the GSI’s communications network and to participate in future workshops.

In addition, the Global Studies Institute will support the expansion of courses in Arabic, Portuguese and Turkish languages at the University Park Campus and in K-12 schools in Centre County, and partner with local schools and foreign universities such as the Bogazici University in Turkey. Also planned are workshops dealing with international careers and collaborations with other Penn State units such as academic departments that offer foreign languages, faculty groups in several colleges, faculty interested in global studies throughout the University, the Confucius Institute, the School of International Affairs and the University Office of Global Programs, to help enhance student and faculty opportunities.

The institute’s agenda also includes expanding the number of international internships offered by the School of International Affairs and sponsoring a global careers lecture series, connecting undergraduate and graduate students with alumni and visitors whose work has been guided by a global perspective. Education and community outreach will play a major role in the institute’s programming. A database of potential Penn State faculty and student speakers on international experiences will be established and distributed to area schools, libraries and community centers.

For more information on the Global Studies Institute or to subscribe to its new listserv, contact McClennen at or Simon at

Last Updated October 12, 2010