Globalizing Our Education

President Joseph Urgo attended the annual American Association of Colleges and Universities Conference on Jan. 27, along with Dean of the Core Curriculum, Libby Nutt Williams, Assistant Dean of the Core Curriculum, Ruth Feingold, and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Larry Vote.

The conference was held in San Francisco and featured discussion on global education and study abroad programs.

“We…present[ed] on what it’s like to go global as a public honors college, since we are one of few,” Williams said.

“Specifically we presented on the challenges that we think can arise. President Urgo talked about what it means to be a public honors college and his vision of public education at a fine liberal arts institution.

Larry Vote, myself, and Ruth Feingold each took a piece of what we thought were the challenges to students.”

The conference included administration representatives from colleges all over the nation, many of whom also presented on what has been happening nationally and internationally in higher education.

“We talked about the challenge of access,” Williams said. “How do we ensure that global education is something that all of our students have access to financially – looking at airfare incentives and potentially developing more scholarships.”

Williams also stressed the importance of providing students with strong interdisciplinary programs, pointing out that the relationship with James Cook University in Australia has allowed more opportunities for biology majors to study abroad.

The panel also presented on the Core Curriculum’s Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World (ELAW) requirement, which can be satisfied through studying abroad, though students can also participate in an internship, take certain experimental courses, put together directive research or conduct an independent study.

“I spoke about the ways the ELAW requirement ideally will encourage students to study abroad and [how] such study can combine with the rest of their college coursework,” Feingold said, explaining that international study should not be seen merely as an “add-on” or a vacation.

“Students should think…about how such study can contribute to their overall educational and personal goals.”

According to Williams, a major point that the panel made was the idea of  “amalgamation,” meaning that studying abroad should not just be tacked on and should instead blend in with the rest of the student’s education.

This is achieved through advising, helping students think about study abroad opportunities early on, and through reflective essays that ELAW participants are required to submit.

“Americans are a peculiar people,” Feingold said, expressing that many people remain “willfully ignorant of the world around us than almost any other nation” despite the resources to travel.

Feingold also said that she wanted to combat this by having students study abroad, gaining “a specific knowledge of the world beyond our national borders” and “an increased sense of independence and confidence, bred of their realization that they must — and can — manage themselves in very unfamiliar surroundings.”

“It is important for students to understand the scholarly world as well as the world in practice,” Williams said. “Things like study-abroad can transform a person’s perspective on the world, and the world is very global now.”

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