Internationalize your Institution through Faculty
In most college, university, and online college communities, Internationalization means increasing international involvement and cultivating a culture of global awareness and thinking. This is accomplished by the power of majority. If the majority of our faculty, staff, and students have international experiences, then we will have accomplished our goal. This process goes deeper than sending more students abroad or adding more international courses to the curriculum. In fact, before we can do either of these things, we must take a good hard look at our faculty, the educational fabric of the institution. Faculty are the reason why many students choose a particular college or university and they are the reason why many choose to study abroad. If we do not have an international-minded faculty, then we are simply chasing after the wind, trying to send more students abroad and develop more international courses in a place that doesn’t really value and cannot fully comprehend or disseminate global education.
If we find that only some of our faculty have international experiences, then it will probably take a great deal of time, energy, commitment, and leadership to change the culture of our institutions. More often than not, our global-minded professors get frustrated with too many small minds and move to institutions with big ones. So how do we internationalize our faculty in order to internationalize our institutions? There are many ways to accomplish this…
(1) Prefer or require international experience in the job descriptions of new faculty positions.
(2) Add international education to your promotion system for acquiring tenure and other awards.
(3) Find ways to send and support your faculty abroad. Read “The Joys and Opportunities of Faculty Travel-Study Abroad” for some ideas. You can Google the URL.
(4) Require existing faculty to have some kind of international experience or training if they have not already obtained one, and to integrate this into their teaching.
(5) Reward faculty who rise up to be leaders of international education, through faculty-led study abroad programs or other means.
Use your Global-Minded Faculty to attract Like-Minded Students
Faculty-led programs can be a powerful internationalization tool for your college or university, if they are well-supported and administered. Professors team up, develop, and lead study-travel courses that fill a void in international education by offering specialized global topics and studies unavailable at home. According to College-Bound Students’ Interests in Study Abroad and Other International Learning Activities, a special edition of student poll™ (January, 2008, American Council on Education, Art & Science Group LLC, and the College Board), more than half of college-bound students plan to study abroad during college. Based on this data, as well as the Open Doors (IIE) data that suggests more than half of the students who study abroad choose short-term programs, it’s probably safe to say that many college-bound students will be looking for universities that do study abroad well and offer feasible, short-term opportunities for them to go. That said, well-designed, supported faculty-led programs can be used to recruit high school students to your college-university and internationalize your institution at the same time.
By using your faculty-led programs to attract high school students to your institution and opening your faculty-led programs to college students across the US and beyond, you have a unique opportunity to transform the culture at your institution faster than it would otherwise take to hire and internationalize your entire faculty. Moreover, it makes sense from a logistical point of view. You may have a professor with a specialized, focused study abroad course, such as Viking Studies in Scandinavia (Harvard University Summer School). There may not be 20 students from your institution who would find it interesting, but surely there are 20 students in the US! If your institution is willing and able to open this program to college students in the US, then your professor is supported, his name and academic department become known for the specialized study, your institution becomes better known and respected, you attract students from far and wide, and you instantly diversity your student groups. Of course, the key is “well-supported and administered” to keep away from trouble.
Submitted by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University