CORVALLIS - Oregon State University has received a grant of about $425,000 from the National Security Education Program.

One of 10 awards made to institutions throughout the nation by the NSEP, the university will use the funds to establish the OSU International Undergraduate Research Program, said Jack Van de Water, OSU dean of International Programs.

"This program will enable students and faculty to work together in real world, multi-disciplinary research teams," Van de Water said.

The research teams will include OSU undergraduates from the university's International Degree Program, the University Honors College, and the new University Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity Program, which was established to promote undergraduate research. "The new model will be developed in close cooperation with environmental sciences, public health and political science - large, campus programs with active international research agendas and excellent advising for undergraduates," Van de Water said.

Students in the program will form teams that will prepare to conduct research overseas. Sites were selected from a list of OSU partner institutions in China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam that are willing to cooperate with the research teams. A faculty mentor or graduate student will work with each research team to define the research project, and coordinate with the overseas site. Language classes on campus and at the overseas sites will increase language competencies.

The program adds several levels of sophistication to traditional undergraduate work, Van de Water said.

"First, the addition of a multi-disciplinary dimension will encourage students to bridge barriers between the disciplines," Van de Water said. "Secondly, the international dimension will encourage students to bridge language and cultural barriers."

The plan was developed in a joint effort of faculty from the University Honors College, public health, political science, and environmental sciences under Van de Water's leadership. Toby Hayes, OSU vice provost for research, pledged matching funds from his office in support of the program.

Hayes plans to integrate the new program with the University Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity Program to create a broad base of support.

"We want students to be able to compete in the global environment they will encounter upon graduation," Hayes said. "We want them to understand and appreciate cultural and language differences and know how to work across them effectively.

"And we know that the most important research issues are global issues that require the ability to work together with colleagues in other countries and from other disciplines."

Van de Water said OSU is "confident that this program will serve as an excellent model for U.S. universities in the 21st century."

The National Security Education Program institutional grants are designed to provide opportunities for U.S. institutions of higher education to develop or strengthen capabilities to educate U.S. citizens in critical languages, cultures, and international fields to help the nation's ability to operate effectively internationally.

In 1994, OSU was awarded a $361,306 grant to provide resources to implement a new international degree for undergraduates offered as a concurrent degree available in conjunction with all other baccalaureate degrees. The degree requires study abroad and competence in a second language by all students.

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Marit Legler, 541-737-3772