Indiana University (IU) is an incredibly important aspect of Indiana’s defense assets. In 2010, leveraging their broad educational resources, IU acquired 53 defense contracts amounting to nearly $4 million.
IU is nationally ranked in the language and cultural studies of the Near- and Middle East regions and is recognized as a leader in the fields of computer science and the life sciences. IU is utilizing their expertise in these fields to contribute to the United States national defense.
As of December 31, 2011 the United States had over 49,000 armed forces personnel in and around Iraq participating in Operation New Dawn as well as over 102,000 personnel in and around Afghanistan participating in Operation Enduring Freedom. Outside of combat zones, U.S. troops are stationed on every continent excluding Antarctica. Personnel with secondary language expertise are vital, especially for those in combat zones. In Iraq and Afghanistan alone Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, Pashto, Uzbek and Turkmen are spoken by peoples across the given countries. In an interview with the American Forces Press Services, David S.C. Chu, the defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness during the Bush administration, described the importance of secondary language comprehension. He explained, “as far back as the 1960s, experts complained about the lack of language training in the United States. But with the war on terrorism, it is now a prime national security concern.”
Currently IU offers courses and instruction in all of the strategic languages listed above. According to the 2011 rankings by QS World University Rankings, Indiana University ranked 33rd in the world for modern language programs, one of the top public schools listed. Along with the strategic language languages offered, the university offers another forty languages, including languages of growing importance such as Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Hindi. In the past ten years, an additional thirty-one languages have been taught on a summer or two-semester basis. The program is constantly adding to their extensive curriculum.
IU is also a participant in the Language Flagship Program—an innovative approach to language learning which focuses on intense language and cultural immersion to rapidly bring students to advanced fluency while they pursue degrees in other fields. The Language Flagship program is designed for the next generation of global leaders in both business and government. While Language Flagship offers programs for all of the U.S.’s critical language needs, IU is concentrating on three: Chinese, Swahili, and Turkish. Each of these languages are already listed as critical needs languages by the Department of Homeland Security, CIA and others. Chinese—or at least its most popular dialects will play in increasingly important role as China integrates itself further into the world economy. It will also become more important as the U.S. security apparatus dedicates more resources to attempting to analyze and understand its future chief economic and military rival. Swahili is spoken by 60 million people as the official language of five east African nations: the Comoros Islands, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda—it also a lingua franca across most of the region including some ethnic enclaves in the collapsed state of Somalia. Turkey is a rising power bordering current allies in Europe. For years it has attempted to join the European Union but fears of ethno-religious mismatch have thwarted their effort. However, either as a future member of one of the world’s largest economic markets or as a nearby rival, Turkey’s geopolitical importance will continue to rise, especially if temperatures in the Middle East continue to rise. Languages are not learned overnight and so early participation in Language programs like LFP by institutions like IU are in important component in not being caught off guard by the shifting winds of international relationships.
Indiana University is not simply committed to offering a global perspective in a pedagogic sense. This year was the 8th year in a row that IU broke their own record for international student enrollment. Nearly 6,000 students at the Bloomington campus are international students. IU President Michael A. McRobbie has also been promoting IU students to travel abroad. IU ranked 11th in international student enrollment and 8th in study abroad participation in a review of 1,200 U.S. universities.
Incredible innovations are taking place at IU’s School for Informatics and Computing where they have created the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, which is meant to “foster interdisciplinary research in all areas related to complex networks and systems.” The center is currently devising a way to, “forecast significant societal events, ranging from violent protests to nationwide credit-rate crashes, by analyzing the billions of pieces of information in the ocean of public communications, such as tweets, web queries, oil prices, and daily stock market activity.”
In addition to strategic language programs and computer science, a large chunk of IU’s defense contracts and grants go toward military medical research.
Dr. Patrick J. Loehrer, Sr., Director of the IU Simon Cancer Center, was recently awarded a grant to fund his study looking at Warfighter Cancer Care Engineering (WCCE). The WCCE vision is to “view cancer, from its prevention, detection, and treatment to care delivery as a system that can be described and modeled for behavior by applying the principles of systems engineering.” Hiroki Yokota, a professor of biomedical engineering at IU, was recently rewarded a $2.6 million grant for “developing a novel synthetic drug therapy to treat osteoporosis and advance fracture healing.”
Other aspects of IU’s defense asset portfolio include the Center on American and Global Security (CAGS), which “seeks to enhance and expand the teaching, research, and service mission of Indiana University concerning the security challenges facing the United States and the global community in the 21st century.” IU is also home to the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR), which was established to “provide the nation with leadership in applied cybersecurity technology, education, and policy guidance.”
Being a public institution and having worldwide recognition for its language and cultural studies, computer science and life science programs, IU should be considered to be of great importance to our nation’s defense.