New institute launches at Illinois

Illinois Global Institute formed to strengthen international area studies and thematic programs
Flags from around the world
The Illinois Global Institute is home to 10 longstanding international area studies centers and thematic programs.

The University of Illinois has created a new institute within the College of LAS to strengthen research, teaching, and outreach that deepens understanding of cultures and societies around the world.

The Illinois Global Institute (IGI), which launched in August, is home to 10 longstanding international area studies centers and thematic programs. Bringing the units together as part of the IGI will improve organizational support, raise visibility, and foster additional cross-campus collaboration on essential international programs, leaders said.

"The mission of the Illinois Global Institute is to support the range of ways in which students and faculty at the University of Illinois explore globally significant questions and benefit from international collaboration," said Jerry Dávila, executive director of the IGI.  "We pursue this goal by strengthening the campus-wide role of the international area studies centers and thematic programs.”

The centers and programs under IGI include the Center for African Studies; the Center for East Asian & Pacific Studies; the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies; the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies; the Center for South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies; the Russian, East European, & Eurasian Center; the Center for Global Studies; the European Union Center; the Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security; and the Women & Gender in Global Perspectives Program.

The centers and programs make the University of Illinois a leading institution for area and global studies as well as international research collaboration. They are home to academic programs and support work across campus, and they raise more than $2.5 million in grants, gifts, and endowment income that funds faculty research, academic and cultural experiences for students, outreach and public engagement, scholarships, and fellowships. Four are Department of Education National Resource Centers.

Prior to the creation of the IGI, six of the centers and programs were part of the College of LAS; the other four were in Illinois International Programs. In 2018, the Task Force on Area Centers and Thematic programs, comprised of current and former directors of the units, recommended that the units be brought together.

“These centers and programs reflect an extraordinary range of faculty research and teaching on questions and their contexts around the world, creating opportunities for students to develop research skills and global understanding, and sustaining public engagement that highlights connections between our community, our state, and their world," Dávila said.

Feng Sheng Hu, the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, said that the IGI will create new opportunities for campus-wide efforts to promote cultural awareness and deepen the global impact of an Illinois education.

“We are pleased to have the newly formed Illinois Global Institute as part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences,” Hu said. “Each of these 10 units is world-class in terms of promoting international research, education, and outreach. Bringing them all together as the Illinois Global Institute will create even more opportunities in our mission to create and educate global citizens.” 

Moving forward, the IGI will seek to deepen campus partnerships in area and global studies and expand support for faculty research and student learning about global and regional questions.

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Dave Evensen and JoAnne Geigner