Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships support undergraduate and graduate students around the country, helping them develop knowledge and expertise in less commonly taught languages and cultures such as Arabic, Korean, and Ukrainian. The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, which houses eight FLAS centers at Indiana University, including the African Studies Program, the Russian and East European Institute, and the Center for the Study of the Middle East, provides more FLAS fellowships than any other school in the country.
The fellowship funds, contributed by the US Department of Education, are designed for students to seriously pursue less commonly taught languages and cultures, particularly those that are considered to be of critical interest to the United States. More than 50 languages taught at the Hamilton Lugar School qualify for that distinction. Students who are interested in pursuing university teaching, government service, or other careers where knowledge of foreign languages and cultures is a prerequisite for success are particularly competitive for FLAS fellowships.
FLAS fellows come from nearly every professional school on the Indiana University Bloomington campus, including the College of Arts & Sciences, Kelley School of Business, and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. All domestic undergraduate and graduate students at IU are eligible so long as they have a demonstrated commitment to a certain language and believe that area and language study will assist them in achieving future goals.
Undergraduate FLAS fellows are eligible to receive a $5,000 stipend and up to $10,000 to pay for tuition for studies undertaken during the academic year, and graduate fellows are eligible to receive a tuition award of 12 credit hours per semester in addition to a $15,000 stipend. Both undergraduate and graduate students qualify for summer stipends of $2,500 and a tuition award of up to $5,000.
All incoming students, undergraduates, and graduate students at IU are eligible for FLAS fellowships so long as they have a demonstrated commitment to a certain language and believe that area and language study will assist them in their future goals.
Sydney Pleak, a third-year student pursuing a BS in Public Affairs at the O’Neill School with a focus on Environmental Management, used her FLAS award to become more involved in the African Studies Program and nurture her interest in IsiZulu. Now the first Undergraduate African Studies Outreach Ambassador, she says, “It has been exciting to combine my environmental management degree with aspects from my African Studies coursework and IsiZulu. I am now researching career paths that uniquely combine my two areas of study.”
Dana Vanderburgh, a Ph.D. student in Anthropology with a minor in African Studies, spent the summer of 2019 studying Akan in Ghana with the help of a FLAS fellowship. Her growing mastery of language was only one of the skills she left with, however. She came to understand, she says, “how intimately connected the language is with Akan culture. I was not merely learning new vocabulary and honing my grammar skills, but learning how cultural beliefs, practices, and relationships are embedded in the words we speak. I found that, over the course of the summer, I was able to better connect with my Akan-speaking friends, host family, and other colleagues because I could not only find the words to express what I wanted to say, but do so in a culturally-relevant manner.” These lessons will aid her as she pursues research and continues her relationship with Ghana, she says.
In Moscow, Nicholas Ingersoll used a FLAS fellowship to “digitize records of Soviet repression as a volunteer at the Russian State Gulag Museum,” he says. A master’s student in history, Ingersoll adds, “FLAS has helped me to connect with Russian archivists, historians and activists, and gain an understanding of their work to preserve their history for future generations.”
Beyond his language learning and archival work, Ingersoll was able to learn from the Russians he met during his stay, which will aid him as he pursues a career as a Russian history professor. He says, “I am also grateful for the human connections I have been able to form over this course of study, for they have given me priceless Russian perspectives on Russian history and relations between our two nations. I am convinced that these perspectives and lived experiences will enrich and inform my understanding of Russia and its history.”
From East Asia, to Russia, to the Middle East, to Africa, to Latin America and the Caribbean, the Hamilton Lugar School’s FLAS Centers cover a tremendous variety of regions, languages, and cultures of the world. And whether undergraduate or graduate students are part of the Hamilton Lugar School or another IU school, they are all eligible for FLAS fellowships. More information on how to apply can be found on the FLAS website.