Occidental Receives Keck Foundation Grant to Create Center for Intercultural Partnerships
Occidental College has received a $500,000 grant from the Keck Foundation to create a Center for Intercultural Partnerships that will allow students to practice their foreign language skills in a state-of-the-art teaching facility.
The opening is tentatively slated for fall 2005.
The center, which will be housed in 90-year-old Johnson Hall, will include a video and Internet conferencing room, a computer lab with audio-visual capabilities and new language software, conversational spaces for meetings and foreign language practice and discussion, and two small administrative offices. Keck funding is payable over three years.
“Using this center to immerse themselves more completely in other cultures will allow students to prepare for an increasingly interdependent and pluralistic world,” said Kenyon Chan, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college. “It is now possible to harness new technologies such as digital video, interactive multimedia and the web to approximate an immersive environment and facilitate the students’ experience as they learn about new cultures and languages.”
Among the features to be included in the Center for Intercultural Partnerships:
· Computers for audio and visual exercises will help students perfect their pronunciation, aural and visual comprehension and writing ability. Advanced language classes will take advantage of word processing in the target language and will have access to satellite news broadcasts and websites from countries around the world.
· Students of foreign literature will have access to an extensive collection of foreign films and classic literary works read by actors or, in some cases, the authors themselves. Lab staff will be able to provide the written text of these oral presentations on the computer screen as the student listens to the reading.
· Students who want to learn a language not offered in the curriculum can take advantage of interactive software in Arabic, Cantonese, Celtic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Korean, Italian, Nepali, Swedish, Thai, Polish and others, as well as indigenous languages such as Nahuatl and Guarani.
· Videoconferencing will make available lectures, readings and speeches to students in a broad range of fields. Presentations from diplomats and other officials at the United Nations or in foreign countries could enrich courses in global politics. Further, the videoconferencing room can serve as a place where students preparing to go abroad can receive orientation from their peers already abroad.
· The center will provide useful resources and a stimulating environment for other disciplines as well as languages. Courses that have to do with the study of global or domestic social conditions will be able to motivate students to communicate with other students around the world.
“The new Center for Intercultural Partnerships will enable us to provide our students with a much richer set of interactive learning opportunities that will allow them to better connect with each other and the people and resources of the local and global communities,” Chan said.