The Hamilton Lugar School’s Center for the Study of Global Change is spearheading a two-year initiative to chart a course for strengthening Hoosiers’ cross-cultural and language competencies. Called the Indiana Language Roadmap, the project is funded by the US Department of Defense, in the hopes that Indiana, like the seven other states who have participated, will be able to play an even bigger role on the world stage and in the global marketplace.
“We’ve haven’t had to make a hard sell for the Roadmap, because as a state, Indiana is already keenly aware of the need to develop global connections,” says Hilary Kahn, the director of the Center for the Study of Global Change and the principal investigator on the Roadmap project. “Indiana has a governor who is keenly pursuing foreign investments and leading overseas trade delegations.”
Kahn notes that many schools across the state already recognize the need to train a globally ready workforce. She cites Indianapolis’ Ben Davis University High School, which can now train students as medical interpreters. “Part of what we’re doing with the Roadmap is connecting all the dots.”
To make those connections, the Roadmap project recruited participants from Indiana’s academic, government, business, and community development sectors and organized regional committees to come up with a draft roadmap over the past year. On December 3, 150 participants gathered at an Indianapolis summit to discuss the draft.
Before doing so, attendees heard a panel discussion on the state’s global workforce needs. Hamilton Lugar School Dean Lee Feinstein, who moderated the panel, began by quoting South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Even the smallest community needs to have a global mentality.” This sentiment was echoed by all the panelists, who included Elaine Bedel, the president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation; Danny Lopez, who chairs the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet; Marsha Stone, the Indianapolis Airport Authority’s senior director of commercial enterprise; and Marina Hadjioannou Waters, the president of Indianapolis-based Luna Language Services.
Teresa Nichols, the Roadmap project coordinator and the grant and program manager at the Center for the Study of Global Change, explains that the next step will be a series of regional meetings in spring 2019, where Roadmap participants can focus on how to implement the many ideas they’ve generated during the two-year process. “We really want people to see that language skills and global competency are not just issues that teachers care about,” Nichols says. “People in many sectors see a need for these skills, and Indiana needs to be proactive in training a workforce who has them.”