Internationalization (Something like Ratatouille): Internationalizing Campuses through Global-Minded Faculty

by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University

Internationalization (Something like Ratatouille):
Internationalization (Something like Ratatouille)

Ratatouille is a traditional French dish made with stewed vegetables. It is usually a side dish, but can also be a meal of its own (accompanied by bread or rice). If you’re a ratatouille connoisseur, or maybe you just tried to find a recipe like I did (after watching the movie), then you know there’s no one way to make it. In fact, there are lots of recipes for the same dish, which all look and taste a little different. This isn’t farfetched from the way colleges and universities are working to internationalize their institutions, with lots of plans that look different from one another. The quandary is that some institutions are forgetting the main ingredient.

No matter what recipe you choose and how you end up making ratatouille, you will need one key ingredient: eggplant. Without eggplant is without ratatouille. This same concept fits our plans for internationalization, except it’s not eggplant, but people we need to get started. Yes, the most important ingredient for internationalization is people who embrace a global ideology and have the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to get things done. These people bring passion, expertise, ingenuity, creativity, strategy, and more. They also usher in the secondary ingredients (policies, procedures, programming, and technology) needed to complete the recipe.

Imagine what you’d get if you only had tomatoes, garlic, parsley, basil, onions, peppers, and olive oil (common secondary ingredients) to make ratatouille. You’d probably end up with spaghetti sauce instead. If your policies, procedures, programming, and technology are not working, look at your main ingredient. Faculty are an important part of your internationalization process because they have more influence on students than any other group of people within a university setting. Consequently, having a global-minded faculty is priority for institutions that are serious about internationalizing their campuses.

Finding the right people is no easy task. These faculty, staff, and students are not available from your local grocer, so to speak. While you can make the people you have into the people you need, it takes a lot more time and effort to do so. Also, like yogurt, you need some to make some, and what little you make gets eaten really fast! If you’re serious about finding the best people you can get, then you have to take a special trip, perhaps to a far away specialty store, or implement a focused, concerted effort to secure and retain them for your needs.

For this, consider the 5 R’s of Internationalization:
Recommend, Require, Recognize, Raise, and Reward.

Recommend

:: recommend the words “global” and/or “international” be added to your mission and vision statements

:: recommend international experience be added as a preference for all new hires and to the promotion system for acquiring tenure

:: recommend incentives for the right faculty, staff, and students to choose your institution

Require

:: require international training and/or experience of all faculty and staff, in all departments

:: require all departments have one or more study abroad programs available for their students as well as recruit international students

:: require international education be a separate section, included in departmental reports 

Recognize

:: recognize faculty who internationalize their courses, develop and lead study abroad programs, foster relationships with international students, and encourage study abroad

:: recognize employees who participate in professional development opportunities relevant to international education

:: recognize exemplary student participation in international education programs (both to and from the institution)

Raise

:: raise funding for faculty interested in fostering the development of exemplary international education programs and partnerships

:: raise grants and scholarships for students who wish to participate in international programs

:: raise the profile and awareness of faculty, staff, and students who have international experience

Reward

::reward faculty and staff who rise up to be leaders of international education on the campus

::reward faculty and staff who serve on international education councils or committees

::reward faculty who help internationalize their colleges and departments in different ways

Submitted by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University

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