Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How Should a College Begin to Think About Going Global?

Chronicle of Higher Ed
September 15, 2008

Rapidly growing numbers of colleges and universities are interested in becoming more global, but there is no one model. The best approach varies from institution to institution. Each one must deal with certain basic issues, however, in order to move beyond rhetoric to a broad-based and sustained international effort. John K. Hudzik, vice president for global engagement and strategic projects at Michigan State University — which created the first office of international programs at a major American university, more than 50 years ago, and now has more than 1,200 professors and administrators involved in international scholarship, teaching, and service work — recommends that institutions, regardless of their size or mission, consider these key questions:

* What is the intended scope of the internationalization? Across the institutional mission, or only specific aspects? Whom is the effort intended to reach? Only some students and faculty members, or all of them? What about people outside the college?

* Is the vision for internationalization one that is mainly externally directed, like study abroad or development work abroad? Or is it intended to fundamentally reshape the living and learning environment on the home campus?

* Does the college have a vision, strategic plan, and accountability metrics to guide its intentions and actions? How much have faculty and staff members, students, and administrators bought into and contributed to the new international direction?

* How large and diverse an international student and faculty body does the college seek to have? What is the primary motivation to attract international students and faculty members? What role is envisioned for them with respect to internationalizing the campus environment, and how will they be integrated into the living and learning environment for that purpose?

* Will students and faculty members have access to language learning and cultural information through a variety of means, methods, and alternative pedagogies?

* How internationally experienced and engaged are the faculty members? Will future hiring practices, perhaps through all disciplines, seek those who meet such criteria? Is the college prepared to support and enhance faculty knowledge, skill, and experience in international areas?

* To what extent is the college willing to build strategic partnerships with institutions and groups abroad to support its internationalization of instruction, research, and outreach?

* What are the signature programs that might be seen as high-quality and valuable to partners abroad? Which of the college's programs would be significantly strengthened through systematic international engagement?

* Can the college expand its global reach through specific themes or areas of expertise in which it has a significant capacity to engage in international research, instruction, and community development and problem solving?

* Is the college prepared to become, and to see itself, not only as a local resource but also as a national and a global resource in some disciplines, programs, or areas of expertise?
Section: Commentary
Volume 55, Issue 4, Page A34

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