MLA President’s call to action on federal budget plans

from Found in Translation BlogOf course, the languages here at Udub are threatened.  Who needs them?  As a scientist, I sure don’t.  Anywhere I go my colleagues damn well better speak English and write it well .. or no one will be able to talk with them.  Funny to watch .. a Chinese and a Japanese scientist struggling to find words in English to talkk with each other!

I have a hunch this scenario is a lot less funny in the business world.  English is (still) the world’s language but Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic ….. these are the local languages of business.  Even more important, it is farcical to imagine that Americans can understand other  cultures if we do not read and hear people in their  own languages.

So now, the Modern Language Association President Russell Berman has issued a letter calling upon its members to protest the cuts to education, especially languages and the humanities, that are written into the new federal budget. This section from the letter, in particular, highlights the damage that stands to be done to international education and higher education more generally, should this budget be enacted:

Devastating cuts of 40% to Title VI and to Fulbright-Hays, the key federal program for International Education and Foreign Language, will do catastrophic damage to efforts to equip students with the linguistic and cultural knowledge necessary to understand today’s world. Given the widespread recognition of the challenges of globalization and the complexity of international relations, the decision to slash funding for education programs like Fulbright-Hays by more than $50 million is incomprehensible.

The MLA is equally dismayed at dramatic reductions ($140 million) to the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FIPSE has played an important role in supporting the internationalization of higher education.

Further, the reduction of $12.5 million to the National Endowment for the Humanities budget will impede the progress of the Bridging Cultures initiative, which helps us understand the ways cultures from around the world influence American society.

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The White House has also requested  advice on education reform. The comment period was open until March 11 but if you still want to try this:

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