By Mary Grace Mangano
With 40 percent of the University’s 2012 graduating class having studied abroad, international studies are taking on a larger role for students.
One new group, the International Leadership Team, is responding to that development directly.
The ILT is comprised of professors and students who have a goal to make the school more international by promoting both students studying abroad and encouraging people from other countries to study at the University.
Associate communication professor Susan Mackey-Kallis is the head faculty member, though there are 13 total professors involved, in addition to students who have been asked to be on a team.
The main goal of the ILT is to develop a strategic plan for comprehensive internationalization that will help the University strengthen its global leadership and engagement.
According to student member Jacklynn Wong, there are several subcommittees of the group, which include strategic international partnerships, education abroad, international students and scholars, international teaching and learning, international research, co-curricular/campus life and multicultural affairs, internationalization and community engagement and outreach.
These groups aim to create a vision of internationalization for the University and to review current internationalization activities at the University.
The objective is to sharpen institutional goals and determine whether students have sufficient opportunities to meet those learning goals the groups have set forth.
They hope to ensure that the wider University community, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, are informed of the committee’s work, are engaged in meaningful discussion of the International Leadership Team’s work as it unfolds and have adequate opportunities for input.
Mackey-Kallis, who started the University’s summer abroad program in Greece, says that the ILT aims to work on international initiatives in order to boost the University’s internationalization.
Though currently the University is ranked fourth by Open Doors in terms of number of students who study abroad, with roughly 3 percent of undergraduates studying abroad, the ILT hopes to increase that statistic to 10 percent in the future.
This group is the product of Mackey-Kallis’s fellowship with the American Council in Education last year. University President Rev.
Peter Donohue, O.S.A., nominated Mackey-Kallis for the program, and so she took sabbatical to study the international programs at 50 universities.
She also traveled to China to study the different initiatives that the University could possibly adopt. At the end of her fellowship with the ACE, Mackey-Kallis proposed starting the ILT to Donohue.
The ILT has partnered with the ACE and is now part of a cohort model with other institutions, such as Texas Christian and Virginia Commonwealth Universities.
For two years, the University will maintain this partnership. At the end of the two years, the ACE will review and evaluate the strides made by the ILT to incorporate internationalization initiatives.
They will make recommendations and compose a report that hopefully will advise which policies to adopt permanently.
Some of the items to review in this process are “cross-college and cross-discipline collaboration on international initiatives, international research/grant development, international teaching and learning (including curriculum, area studies programs and learning outcomes development) and education technology and internationalization,” Wong says.
Other areas to focus on are education abroad, faculty development in internationalization, international scholar and student development and organizational models for managing university-wide international affairs.
“The ILT plans to look at the intersections among multiculturalism, globalism, and internationalization and the relationships with local ethnic/language communities and international stakeholders,” Wong says.
“Different units don’t know what other programs are doing,” Mackey-Kallis says. “The ILT will take an inventory of international programs at the University and connect other programs to each other.”
She also mentions that the ILT will plan strategically for the future.
“What’s an appropriate target for percent students studying abroad?” Mackey-Kallis asks. “What areas of the world should we focus on? How do we successfully increase the number of international students and make sure they have a greater integrated experience?”
Mackey-Kallis commends the University for the number of international students it already enrolls and would like to ensure that their time at the University is as fruitful as possible and that there are numerous opportunities available to them.
These are some of the questions the ILT hopes to answer from its review. They also want to provide international experiences to students who choose not to study abroad during the course of their undergraduate education.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences currently has a language requirement, but Mackey-Kallis says that the ILT will look at possibly requiring students to have an international component to their studies, which would differ from the foreign language requirement.
There could also be an international track that shows up on a student’s transcript, she says.
“How do we want to facilitate faculty development for those who want to include international study?” she asks.
Mackey-Kallis cites technology as a huge help in this area.
Professor Hollis has a class which partners with an international online provider that connects students in her class with students in the Middle East.
“They have interactive sessions with each other and this creates an added value,” Mackey-Kallis says.
She hopes the ILT will promote more of this type of curriculum to increase students’ international exposure. She also suggests focusing on “global” opportunities—by partnering with local NGO communities.
“In Philadelphia, we’re surrounded by ethnic and language communities,” she says.
She would like to find a way to provide students with internships and service learning experiences with these organizations.
The members of the ILT come from all colleges and disciplines at the University.
The chair is Mackey-Kallis, as previously mentioned. From engineering, Andrea Welker, Ph.D., and Pali Singh, Ph.D., are members.
Frances Keen, Ph.D., of the nursing school, is also involved.
The business school’s representatives are Jonathan Doh, Ph.D., Kim Cahill, and Wen Mao, Ph.D.
Four arts and sciences professors are members, including Maria Toyoda, Ph.D., Seth Whidden, Ph.D., Louise Russo, Ph.D., and Michael Posner, Ph.D.
The University’s Office of International Studies also has a member on the team, Lance Kenney.
Steve Merritt and Jacklynn Wong, the student representatives, will serve as enrollment managers.
The ILT has high hopes for its impact on the University’s internationalization.
They have assembled a strong team of dedicated members who care about increasing international exposure and deepening relationships with international communities.