The Crossing Borders (CB) Program began during 1997-98 (Phase One ), with support from the Ford Foundation and the University's Office of the Associate Provost for International Programs. The project continued for three years during 1999-2002 (Phase Two ) with an additional generous grant from the Ford Foundation and with strong institutional support from the University of Iowa Graduate College, the Liberal Arts College and the Associate Provost for International Programs.
The CB Program is organized around the needs of graduate students in doctoral programs--"Crossing Borders Fellows"--who have been nominated by 12 participating departments--Anthropology, Art and Art History, Cinema and Comparative Literature, Communication Studies, English, French and Italian, Geography, German, History, Political Science, Spanish and Portuguese, and Women's Studies.
The CB Program emphasizes the value of learning foreign languages for research, knowing local, regional and national histories and cultures, conducting multi-sited research and having advance acquaintance with the places that will be the Fellows' eventual sites of dissertation research. The CB approach is most appropriate in contemporary settings where overlapping nationalities, ethnicities, and races are prominent and where institutional boundaries, national sovereignties, and territorialized cultures are changing or in dispute. From time to time, however, CB Fellows design inventive projects that have a colonial or even pre-colonial chronology, and they have occasionally positioned the US as one site in multi-sited research projects.
The Program's key innovations are (i) a continuing series of team-taught graduate seminars (at least one per semester) that focus on cases and settings where globalization's antecedents and effects are evident and where interdisciplinary methods are appropriate and productive; (ii) the provision of opportunities for Fellows to travel abroad and learn foreign languages in the summers prior to formulating their dissertation proposals; and (iii) faculty development through participation in jointly-taught seminars and in summer travel-seminars, both of which bring faculty into close working relationships with peers in other disciplines and in different parts of the world.
The CB Program is administered by a faculty Director and an executive committee that includes representatives from (i) 12 participating departments, (ii) the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (iii) the Graduate College, and (iv) International Programs. Two students also sit on the committee and represent graduate Fellows' views. Departmental representatives generally include the Chairs (departmental executive officers) and an appointed Crossing Borders Mentor.
Crossing Borders Fellows are often international students, but they come from a wide range of backgrounds. Fellows are appointed by their departments for three years, during which time they participate in at least four CB seminars (including summer seminars), begin or continue the study of two foreign languages suited to their proposed dissertation research, and present preliminary library- or field-based research results at an annual Convocation.
First-year Fellows meet in a bi-weekly pro-seminar where they are introduced to members of the faculty, discuss key publications and develop their research projects by sharing ideas with students from other disciplines. During summers Fellows are encouraged to attend short (three-week) methodology seminars, study foreign languages or visit the sites of proposed future research.
Fellows' participation in CB seminars count as electives toward their disciplinary degree requirements; that is, participation in CB seminars is not intended to add to the registration load or to task CB students beyond what non-Fellows do. All program requirements and expectations are interpreted flexibly in accord with Fellows’ interests, and students can register their concern by speaking with a departmental Mentor or by writing to the Program Director or the Executive Committee.
During the CB Fellows' first two years in the Program they are released from one-sixth of regular teaching or research assistantship duties; this Fellowship time is to be devoted to the study of foreign languages or to attend special CB seminars.
CB Fellows are encouraged to apply for a variety of internal and external funds to enable them to lengthen their travel abroad, and, if necessary, to acquire additional foreign-language training. Since the summer of 2004 selected CB Fellows have been able to travel abroad with faculty members on "second-area travel seminars."
The Ford Foundation is pleased to be a part of renewed efforts to support innovative scholarship and teaching in this field. One particular program with funding totaling $25 million over a six-year period supports a new initiative, "Crossing Borders: Revitalizing Area Studies."
The initiative has two aims: first, to support intensive study of particular languages, cultures, and histories, building on the first half-century of work in area studies; and second, to foster innovative thinking and practices related to the field of area studies itself, through a variety of partnerships, as well as disciplinary and other "border-crossings."
The pages that follow describe the first set of grants made under this initiative to thirty colleges and universities throughout the United States. The impact of these grants, the Foundation hopes, will reverberate well beyond the thirty institutions that received support. This booklet is intended to stimulate that process by sharing information and ideas, and by fostering networks and new collaborations. Ultimately, the revitalization of such a crucial scholarly field may enhance international cooperation and foster a better informed citizenry.