When internationalizing, many campuses focus on the three F’s: flags, foods, and festivals.
We have all seen examples of this. You walk into the campus center and there are flags flying overhead representing the nations from which their students hail. Tables are set up to allow students to sample delicacies such as haggis, vegemite, or frog sashimi. And, during international festivals, other cultural components such as dress, dancing, or stories are shared.
These activities help to raise awareness of an institution’s international complexity and, hopefully, educate domestic students about the culture of their international peers. They are also solid examples of the efforts of many student affairs professionals helping to raise global awareness among the student body. However, all too often such events happen in isolation and are not well aligned with the academic curricular experience in any meaningful way.
However, making a real difference in how students engage internationally – ensuring they are not just globally aware, but operating with a global perspective – requires an institutional commitment that transcends and unites the curricular and co-curricular experience.
Take, for example, Howard Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County, the most recent winners of the 2012 IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Internationalizing the Community College. Community colleges are not often considered international places, but many faculty and academic leaders recognize the importance of exposing their students to some international engagement. The Global Distinction program, a joint effort of these two community colleges, is a manifestation of this recognition.
The Global Distinction program provides a “framework to ensure that students become global citizens and are prepared for both academic and professional endeavors in the interconnected and interdependent world of the 21st century.” It uses a threefold approach of globally intensive coursework, study abroad or domestic intercultural experience, and college-community involvement.
In their joint Heiskell application, the on-campus involvement is described as “liv[ing] vicariously through a study abroad slide show or discover[ing] tastes from different cultures; …participat[ing] in theater, dances and music exposing them to world through the arts; … and hear[ing] from leading thinkers in the realm of global influences in the various disciplines of business, sociology and politics.” To make sure that these activities are linked back to the curriculum, students are required to attend at least one per semester and write a reflective essay on the experience.
Another institution linking the curricular and co-curricular international experiences is Florida International University. FIU has recently begun to emphasize global learning as a core aspect of its undergraduate curriculum. Rather than focusing just on increasing the number of students who study abroad, FIU decided to take a more holistic approach to internationalization to reach more of their students (about 60% of whom are low-income and Pell grant eligible and, therefore, unlikely to study abroad).
The approach has been to increase the number of curricular and co-curricular experiences with an intensive global experience. The institution supports the Global Learning for Global Citizenship (GLGC) office dedicated to supporting global learning initiatives; including a set of professional development workshops for faculty and student affairs staff interested in internationalizing the ways they engage students. The GLGC staff support initiatives such as the Tuesday Times Roundtable, which fosters discussions between students and faculty about recent internationally focused articles in the New York Times; and GLOBEd, a student group that plans interactive global learning opportunities that support the classroom experience. They also provide a set of resources to help student affairs professionals organize experiences to support the curricular experience.
These programs both illustrate the potential to foster internationalization that spans the curricular and the co-curricular experiences. In both institutions, there was recognition that a vast majority of students do not have the opportunity to study abroad; focusing efforts on such experiences only impacts a small portion of the student body. In their desire to provide students with an internationalized experience, they also recognized that associated activities should not be isolated or random. Rather, the idea is to provide a coordinated set of activities that more fully engages students throughout their college experience, helping students to embrace a more global perspective.
As the world becomes more globalized, it is important for colleges and universities to consider how to aid students in becoming both global citizens and global workers. This requires students be exposed to a broad range of experiences that help to transform how they view and engage with the world. Student affairs practitioners can play an important role in these efforts and, to maximize impact, should find ways to collaborate with colleagues in academic affairs.
- In what types of internationalization activities does your student affairs division engage?
- Do student affairs and academic affairs professionals collaborate on internationalization activities? If not, how might this be accomplished? Could current activities be aligned to better support students’ curricular experiences?
About the Author
Jason E. Lane is Director of Education Studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, associate professor of educational administration and policy studies, and a senior researcher with the Institute for Global Education Policy Studies at the State University of New York, Albany. He is member of the governing boards of the Comparative and International Education Society and the Council for International Higher Education and is an Associate of the International Association of Universities. His most recent books include Academic Leadership and Governance of Higher Education (Stylus Press), Colleges and Universities as Economic Drivers (SUNY Press), and Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch (Jossey-Bass). More about the author and his research on cross-border education can be found here.
Please e-mail inquiries to Jason E. Lane.
Follow Jason Lane on Twitter @ProfJasonLane.
The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.