Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

A Road Map to the Global University

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

A Road Map to the Global University

Article excerpt

The prevalent tendency is to focus on one or another element of internationalization like global partnerships, recruitment of international faculty and students, or education abroad initiatives. Tbe benefit of a systemic approach to internationalization is that it allows us to comprehend how one decision, activity, custom, or structure can either inhibit or spur significant change in the overall process. To provide both scholars and practitioners with a comprehensive road map for our campuses, this paper lays out the principal constituent components or pillars of a global university.

PILLAR I

Internationalization is included in the strategic plans of all departments, colleges, and schools within the university.

No one doubts the positive effects of including internationalization in the institutions strategic plans and goals such as promoting a more diverse faculty and student body, fostering a capacity for effective communication across cultural and linguistic boundaries, and equipping students to work effectively in international settings. However, comprehensive internationalization is unlikely to occur unless every unit within the institution - including academic departments, colleges, and schools - incorporates plans and benchmarks within its own goals for its teaching, discovery, and engagement missions.

PILLAR II

International aspects are integrated into all majors or all students completing a relevant internationally focused second major, minor, or certificate.

Global competence cannot be the preserve of only a few students. It is incumbent upon us as international educators to gain buy-in and participation from campus academic units in designing undergraduate programs that will let students earn area studies certificates or minors linked and relevant to their disciplines, or disciplinary or international and area studies majors where both disciplinary expertise and area/international studies are integrated. The answer is not area studies or disciplines - it is developing a comprehensive and coherent curriculum that will train our students to become globally competent critical thinkers.

PILLAR III

Financial, curricular, and other barriers are overcome to make education abroad accessible and affordable for all students, and education abroad offerings are evaluated in terms of quality and relevance to the educational and career objectives of students.

If we are to reach the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act's goal of sending one million U.S. students abroad by 2020, we are obliged to rethink how we finance learning abroad opportunities. Most institutions rely on program fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars to fund education abroad offices and to provide scholarships to students. Frequently, the costs of program fees (on top of tuition) serve to place education abroad beyond the reach of many students.

If our government and our campuses are truly committed to quality education abroad opportunities for all students, we need to move to a system where the costs of education abroad - including the costs of maintaining an education abroad office - are built into tuition (or in the case of public universities and colleges, covered by tuition and state revenues) so that students attending institutions of higher education pay the same whether or not they participate in a learning abroad experience. Learning abroad is an academic priority and should be treated and funded no differently from other academic priorities.

PILLAR IV

Foreign language proficiency is a requirement for all students and efforts are made to customize language instruction to fulfill every student's learning objectives.

A truly internationalized major for all students will require rethinking how we develop foreign language proficiency, a necessary component of global competence. The multicultural character of our societies and the globalizing trend of the workplace require foreign language competency for graduates in the social and natural sciences and in our professional schools. …

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