A grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program was recently awarded to the University of Georgia to establish the Russian Domestic Undergraduate Flagship Program. The renewable grant brings more than $275,000 to UGA in the first year and is expected to provide more than $1 million, pending congressional approval, during the first full grant cycle.
Language Flagship Programs are administered by the Institute of International Education, which oversees several elite grant programs, such as Fulbright. The Language Flagship currently funds 25 Flagship Centers across the country in languages considered vital to national security and to the challenges of a global society, such as environmental degradation, global disease and hunger and economic pressures.
“Flagship provides students with the resources to sustain and grow their proficiency in Russian throughout their undergraduate studies with generous funding for study abroad scholarships to help students strengthen their language and intercultural skills in professional terms,” said Russian Flagship director Victoria Hasko, an associate professor of world language education in the College of Education’s department of language and literacy education.
With over 150 million speakers, Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world. As commercial opportunities continue to grow between the United States and Eastern Europe, an increased number of businesses and government agencies are hiring individuals with Russian language skills.
UGA’s Portuguese Flagship was established in 2011, making this the second Language Flagship at the university and the fifth Russian program in the country. The program is open to undergraduate students of all majors and is a collaborative initiative between the College of Education and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, with faculty partners across campus.
“This program is a critical national security initiative, and we want to help UGA Russian Flagship graduates succeed in impactful and prestigious careers nationally and globally,” said Hasko. “This program is a long-term commitment. We are hiring new faculty, building new intensive programming and planning to bring in experts whose work relates to Russia to create an innovative and effective career path for our students.”