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International Programs Grant Helps Integrate Global Experiences

Published: August 02, 2007
By Robin Roger

This summer, the International Programs Office received a 2-year, $165,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand its offerings, revise existing classes and train faculty to implement the new initiatives.

“This grant comes at a crucial time because we’re at a critical juncture about where internationalization is going at UT,” said Dr. James Harf, director of international academic programs.

The office will use the money to design new courses, including a senior research seminar for the International and Cultural Studies major, a capstone course for the Certificate of International Studies Program and four language-for-travel courses.

Introductory Arabic will be added the first year, and both introductory and intermediate courses will be available the following year. Students studying abroad in individualized programs will take a pre-departure course before leaving the country, and all students can take advantage of four new “language-for-survival” non-credit weekend classes.

Four new global issues courses also will be created, and two specific issues will be selected each year to form the substance of these courses. For instance, students may study global pandemics or human trafficking as part of these courses. 

Existing global issues classes will be revised to fit a common analytical framework, to make the courses more consistent across the board. The IPO will also introduce contemporary issues to the courses required for the International and Cultural Studies major. A contemporary world literature class may include literature that relates to a contemporary global perspective, Harf said.

The grant will also be used to establish a speaking series with two campus-wide programs each year. George Ritzer, author of “The McDonaldization of Society” is slated to speak this fall.

Faculty will receive additional training, and two per year will participate in summer seminars held by the Council on International Educational Exchange.

Upon satisfactory completion of the first year of the program, the University can receive an additional $83,000 in funding the following year.

“This grant will allow us to engage the faculty in a way we haven’t been able to engage them before and expand our offerings in international studies,” Harf said. “It also energizes the faculty to get more and more involved and think about ways to improve our offerings beyond the grant.”

The International Programs Office will develop an outcomes assessment model, which will test students on things like their oral proficiency of foreign languages and their baseline geography and will include a debriefing before and after international travel. This assessment will help to measure the students’ international skills, global knowledge and cross-cultural attitudes.

The global issues classes, the pre-departure classes, study abroad experiences and capstone courses will integrate all of the students’ experiences, and connect them to what’s happening in the global community.

“This will allow us to link activities to current global issues,” said Marca Bear, associate dean for international programs. “It will provide our students with 360 degrees of global readiness.”