Title VIII elimination has little effect on University funding
Funding for the federal Title VIII grant program, which would have helped fund any Washington University students interested in doing research on Eastern Europe, has been eliminated.
Title VIII, established during the Cold War to encourage research that would benefit the government, offered grants to scholars involved in Eastern European and Eurasian studies. It was removed this year as part of wider federal budget cuts.
In the past, the program existed to support graduate and undergraduate students both at Washington University and other universities who studied abroad in Eastern Europe or participated in summer Russian language programs in the U.S.
But because the University never received any direct funding for its programs under Title VIII, its elimination will likely have minimal effect.
Michael Frachetti, co-organizer of the Eurasian studies concentration in the International and Area Studies major, said he thought the decision to eliminate the program ignored the continued cultural relevance of Eurasia and the importance of studying the region.
“We’re talking about areas that are of key strategic and cultural interest, and so I don’t anticipate there being any loss of interest in these regions. I just think that it’s a shortsightedness on the part of the government [to cut Title VIII],” Frachetti said.
He noted that Eastern Europe, lying between the rest of the continent and Asia, is important to trade in the region, particularly with countries such as Kazakhstan being major international sources of oil.
Frachetti said he anticipated that other sources, such as the Fulbright Program, would continue to offer funding for Russian and Eurasian studies projects.
“What we need to now do is find innovative ways to fund students to be able to do that key language study,” he said. “It’ll just be a question of who replaces that need.”
Senior Jenny Lewis, who studied abroad in Russia, said that although she found her study abroad experience valuable, she understood why Title VIII might not be seen as a necessary program. Her program was not itself funded by a Title VIII grant.
“Russian is not a very popular major or general subject in academia. My experience was great, but I do think it’s a little naive to think that spending that much money in the hopes that more students will become more interested in it is a good idea,” Lewis said. “If there was some other way that they could get the funding for it, that would be great, but my program was really small…[so] I get it.”