On an early autumn day in 1957, in middle of the Cold War, the Soviet Union launched first robotic satellite into orbit--and started a movement in American education that is still gaining momentum today. With the Sputnik satellite program, the Soviets demonstrated that their technology at the time—which could support life and carry weapons--was more advanced than American space technology. The United States worked on improving its space program but it also launched other counter-offensive efforts, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Title VI of the National Defense Education Act.
Title VI is a series of federally funded initiatives that strengthen international and foreign languages education. Its purpose is to ensure the United States has enough people with the necessary skills to meet national defense needs.
Over the course of the last 50 years, Title VI established many interrelated programs, including the National Resource Centers at universities, which are mandated to provide resources to the K-12 field. These Centers work with schools in a number of ways: offering teacher professional development courses on international studies; facilitating study tours abroad; developing research material and writing curriculum with teachers and disseminating units nationally; arranging classroom or school presentations by international studies experts; facilitating simulations; and many other activities. Educators can contact any National Resource Center across the country, even if they are not located in your state or community.
Ways to partner with any Title VI National Resource Center
- Look on their website for teaching material and courses. See listings below, or try a portal website, such as OutreachWorld.org or MERLOT.org.
- Design a partnership relevant to your needs. Many centers will work with your school or district to customize a program, from introducing a scholar to giving a presentation for your class or school, to developing a full professional development course for teachers.
- Contact several centers if working on a thematic connection. For example, if looking at early river civilizations or impact of pandemics, contact a Middle East, South and East Asia studies center to collect case studies from different world regions.
- Travel abroad and broaden your perspective on the world. Many Title VI programs offer highly subsidized summer study tours for educators. University faculty will promote inquiry, and give guidance as you develop classroom resources, he or she leads the study tour.
- Title VI Centers offer a broad range of summer programs for educators and students. Contact your local center to explore programming the afterschool hours, too.
- Title VI also offers funding in a number of other areas, most notably: international professional exchanges, scholarships for underserved students to pursue higher education degrees in international or area studies; the development foreign language skills; publishing research, and developing models.
Have you partnered with a university? Please share your experiences and advice below.