University of Pittsburgh
September 6, 2012

Pitt’s Center for Russian and East European Studies, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures awarded grant for ROTC language and culture program

Federal grant will create program to enhance Russian language studies
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—In an effort to promote critical language education, study abroad and intercultural dialogue opportunities, the U.S. ROTC Language & Culture Project, known as Project GO (Global Officers), has awarded the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Russian and East European Studies (REES) and Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures a federal grant of more than $255,000 to provide Russian language training to students from the Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC.

Project GO is sponsored by the National Security Education Program, part of the U.S. Department of Defense, and administered by the Institute of International Education.

“As a new Project GO institution, Pitt will play a major role in helping the Department of Defense achieve its goals of cultural and language competency,” said REES Associate Director Andrew Konitzer. “Project GO provides ROTC cadets and midshipmen with both the financial support and specialized instruction to develop the skills necessary to meet the more nuanced security challenges of the 21st century. As the U.S. military’s various roles continue to change, knowledge of local languages and cultures is more important than ever.”

To help students achieve intermediate or higher levels of Russian language proficiency, REES and the Slavic Department will develop specialized training programs that will include intensive summer language instruction, extended overseas study, and academic year instruction while incorporating online distance learning technologies for ROTC students from beyond western Pennsylvania.

Through the newly designed program, ROTC students will be able to complete coursework equivalent to at least three academic years of Russian language instruction, including cultural content tailored to the needs of future military officers.

The training programs will serve ROTC cadets and midshipmen in the Pittsburgh region who are within commuting distance of Oakland. In order to provide Russian language training to ROTC units in any part of the country that does not have Russian language instruction on a local campus, Pitt will offer admission through a teleconferenced hybrid course. This course will consist of online training combined with two-nights-per-week teleconferenced classroom time with a Pitt instructor to link the hub classroom with the class at Pitt.

Pitt’s Project GO team will develop these new programs in 2012-13, while providing language instruction to ROTC students currently enrolled at Pitt and other Pittsburgh-area institutions. Evening classes will accommodate students’ schedules, including a Beginning Russian course that will blend a traditional classroom and online activities. Starting Fall 2013, a hybrid Intermediate Russian course will accommodate videoconferencing participation by ROTC students at partner hub institutions.

For students who cannot attend academic year courses at Pitt or a regional hub, Pitt’s Project GO will additionally develop an online Intermediate Russian course that includes the web-based “SpeakRussian” software from the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Speech Company, which provides interactive, personalized instruction in speaking, listening, and reading.

Starting in the summer of 2013, Pitt plans to offer intensive language training to ROTC students from throughout the United States at the University’s annual Russian and East European Summer Language Institute (SLI). The SLI offers both an eight-week Russian program in Pittsburgh and a ten-week program with a study abroad component in Moscow.

In 2013, Project GO funding will provide full tuition scholarships and living stipends for as many as12 ROTC students to participate in the SLI. Project GO will also develop a new eight-week advanced study abroad course for ROTC students to be held in Samara, Russia, starting in the 2014 SLI.

The federal funding will support expanded opportunities for free individual tutoring, a weekly conversation table, access to authentic online media resources, and the rich cultural program of the SLI with a wide range of activities conducted by native Russian speakers.

For more information about Pitt’s new Project GO initiative, please contact REES Associate Director Andrew Konitzer at (412) 648-7407 or konitzer@pitt.edu.

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9/6/12/amm/jer

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