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A Chance To Explore: Inspiring Learning that Leads to Inspired Change.
The Power of Knowledge
The humanities and social sciences give context to new discoveries and help the next generation define what it means to be human in the 21st century.
Through LAS, students already have access to many of the nation's top-ranked programs in the humanities and social sciences. And with your gift to the Brilliant Futures campaign, we will build on that solid foundation—funding the faculty endowments, graduate fellowships, scholarships, and programmatic support that impact every program, every student, and every degree at the University of Illinois—profoundly enhancing our ability to build a better world.
The following are examples of successes as well as promising areas of future research.
A Fully Literate Person | Building Bridges, Changing Lives | Feel It in Your Bones | Speak to Me | Learning from History | Exploring the Causes of Poverty | A Think Tank for the Humanities | Good Neighbors | Immigrant America—Learning from Each Other | Moving Democracy Forward
Writers have been exploring how science shapes our understanding of ourselves since Chaucer, who referenced medieval "sciences" ranging from alchemy to optics. Today, LAS novelists continue that tradition, envisioning bold new worlds and offering context for the forces shaping our own, from globalization to multiculturalism. With your help, we will expand this tradition, advancing literature, not just as a source of pleasure, but also as a means of forming the fully "literate" person who will shape the global discussion, adding their informed insights to a world that's diverse and increasingly complex.
Healing involves more than the body. That's why communication professors in LAS are helping people with HIV handle the uncertainty of their illness by providing the psychological tools to manage difficult times. Already, they've learned that the types of communities a person forms and how they communicate with caregivers are essential to their care. The researchers are carrying those lessons forward, exploring how we communicate, in small groups and large, in organizations and through technology, to tap the power of human exchange. With your support, their efforts can be expanded, developing a more holistic approach to mending broken lives.
Until recently, few Americans had any reason to wonder why a virus that was lethal in the Congo had little impact on neighboring Uganda. But that changed in 2002 when Monkeypox sickened hundreds across the Midwest. Now U of I anthropologists are discovering the ecological and cultural practices that make some populations more vulnerable than others. The link between human behavior and emerging diseases is one reason why fields like anthropology and sociology are re-emerging at the frontlines of major global issues, and with your support, will continue to examine why our cultural and societal behavior matters.
While Spanish is the primary non-English language spoken in America, it's not alone. We live in a multicultural society, competing in a global economy, and yet only about 26 percent of Americans are fluent in a second language. To help close this gap, Illinois linguists are developing new teaching techniques to assist college students in acquiring new languages faster. Already, our Arabic program is the largest and fastest growing in the nation, and with your help, we'll expand the offerings we provide, giving our students the tools they need to share their voice with the world.
Technology changes, borders shift, but the things that compel us to dream and to build, or to fight and to destroy, remain largely the same. The path to tomorrow is paved with bricks from the past, making the study of history as relevant as the morning's headlines. By studying the Civil War in America and the Russian revolution, for example, LAS historians can compare the experience of nations, understanding how conflicts are created and resolved—and with your help, they can give us tools from the past to shape a better tomorrow.
In West Africa, impoverished children are often sent to live temporarily with wealthier families, a practice harshly criticized in the West for its potential for abuse. Yet analysis by an LAS economist on the long-term welfare of these children offers startling insights on the forces of economic growth and social change in poor countries, challenging social biases, and reflecting the ways in which economics is being transformed by mathematics, statistics, law, politics, sociology—even neuroscience. With your help, we will continue tackling complex issues fundamental to society's well-being, fostering innovation, alleviating poverty, and going beyond the classroom to find real answers for people with real needs.
When Brazil surpassed the U.S. in soybean production, Midwestern farmers quickly struck back, drawing on the tactics of multinational companies to build their own soybean farms in the Amazon basin. And to understand the economic, cultural, and political realities of their new operations, they relied on area study centers like the U of I's Center for Latin and Caribbean Studies. With your support, we will better understand who, among our neighbors to the south as well as in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, are our potential rivals and friends, in a complex world where those definitions are frequently subject to change.
Rooted in language and religion, Jewish culture has survived, evolved, and mingled with other cultures for centuries, keeping its own identity while adopting elements from others. Today, the Jewish collective experience offers guidance for other ethnic groups struggling with issues of identity and integration, especially in America. Through programs like the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, the lessons learned can be shared with future generations, encouraging cooperation, fostering understanding, and preventing the kind of divisive forces that have the power to tear united nations apart.
Its members are diverse. Yet it speaks with a singular voice. And out of its vision have come the insights that have made LAS a vital force for change. For more than a decade, the Illinois Program for Research in Humanities has focused its resources on the issues of the day, providing new directions in research and bringing the full richness of the humanities to bear on issues ranging from democracy to tolerance to social justice. In many ways, our relevance as a college, a campus, and a catalyst for change, depends on your support of this essential program. With your help today, we can reach far beyond tomorrow, inventing new solutions and investing in ideas with the power to change the world.
While the number of democratic countries has tripled in the past 30 years, dozens have reverted to elements of authoritarian control. Why do some succeed where others fail, and how can these lessons be shared? The Cline Center for Democracy was created to answer these questions through research, and by providing a global platform for the exchange of ideas. Already, the center's Civic Leadership Program has placed program fellows in some of the world's most prestigious democratic institutions, including the World Bank, the White House, and the United Nations. With additional funding, we can do more, monitoring the vitality of democracy across the globe, and providing pivotal research to explore and preserve its ideals.