Clemson University’s American Sign Language (ASL) faculty members are beginning to develop an ASL study abroad program, thanks to an IDEAS Grant from the U.S. Department of State. Clemson is one of only 34 U.S. colleges and universities this year — and the only one in South Carolina — to be awarded a grant from the Department of State’s Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) program, which aims to develop and expand study abroad programs around the world.
The $35,000 grant will allow ASL faculty members Jody Cripps and Stephen Fitzmaurice to lead “Life as a Signer in New Zealand and Australia,” a three-week study abroad program scheduled for May 2024. The program will stop in locations including Auckland, Rotorua, Waimangu, Wellington, Melbourne and Sydney, and it will allow students the opportunity to interact with local Deaf education and support programs, including the Kelston Deaf Education Centre, Deaf Aotearoa, Deaf Connect, the New Zealand Office of Disability Issues and the Victoria College for the Deaf.
“Students will critique how the management or governance of signed language and language policies operate in various nations from a democracy and human rights standpoint,” Cripps said. “For instance, New Zealand designated New Zealand Sign Language as its third official language in 2006, thus creating a distinct language policy. On the other hand, Australia does not have an official language policy and only recognizes Australian Sign Language at a much lower policy level.”
The program not only allows ASL learners to have an immersive language experience but also creates an accessible study abroad course for deaf students.
“Increasing and diversifying U.S. students going abroad for educational opportunities, as well as diversifying the places where they study, is a State Department priority,” said Lee Satterfield, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. “This year’s recipients reflect the true greatness of America – our diversity – as almost 25 percent represent two-year institutions, 40 percent represent minority-serving institutions, and 25 percent represent rural-serving institutions.”
Since 2016, the IDEAS Program has awarded 179 grants to 173 U.S. colleges and universities in 49 states and territories to create, expand, and diversify their U.S. study abroad programs in 71 countries across all world regions. In addition to the IDEAS grants, the program offers opportunities for international educators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in free virtual and in-person study abroad capacity-building activities.
The IDEAS Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the United States Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning. For a full list of 2023 IDEAS grantees, as well as information on upcoming IDEAS webinars and workshops, please visit www.studyabroadcapacitybuilding.org.
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