Globalization poses a major challenge for higher education, with ramifications for what students are taught and what experiences they are offered. The critical question of how to build knowledge that advances understanding of today's global society guides the plans and actions of University leaders.
The President's Commission on the Future of the University identified global programs as one of its top priorities in the coming decade and beyond. In an increasingly competitive global market, the University's future depends on a strengthened commitment to internationalization. Key steps in U.Va.'s long-term strategic plan to prepare students for success in the global economy and public life are in progress: bringing the world to the
Grounds of the University,
extending the University's reach around the globe, and building knowledge that encompasses a global perspective and insights from multiple disciplines.
Turkey, Ottoman Empire
Koran, hand written and decorated
1276 Hijri (1860)
Mohammed Rashid al-Rashidi
Homer S. Cummings Papers,
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The Commission on the Future is acting on the Virginia 2020 Commission on International Activities recommendations proposed ten years ago. Today, University students, faculty, and staff interact with institutions and communities around the world. The University offers students a broader global outlook, bringing international experts to the Grounds to share their knowledge, and providing faculty and students greater opportunities to study and conduct research and service projects abroad.
The new Jefferson Public Citizens program, an academic public service program that integrates students' service and research experiences, encourages students to perform undergraduate research locally, nationally, and internationally. Of the sixteen projects that began in fall 2009, one-third will take place in other countries and include topics such as the study of water, health, and sanitation in La Gracia, Belize; and the use of computer technology to empower rural development in three villages in Honduras.
A gift from the estate of Gertrude Greenslade, a University professor of economics from 1969 to 1993, supports international studies programs at the East Asia Center and the Center for South Asian Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. The College will hire faculty in related social science and humanities fields and add support staff for the two centers. The gift will help elevate the centers to federally designated National Resources Centers, resulting in increased federal support for graduate fellowships and a higher profile for U.Va.'s language and social science programs
Honduras is the site of various public service projects. The Jefferson Public Citizens group "Computer Technology Empowering Rural Development" is part of a collaboration that is setting up self-sufficient Internet kiosks in three small villages in Honduras. The kiosks will give villagers access to health care information, markets for selling goods, and increased communication opportunities.
in these critical areas. The endowment will also support new exchange programs with the University of Rome, École normale supérieure de Paris, and l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales.
Chinese Document Seal
800 B.C.–1800 A.D.
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The University's newest major, Global Development Studies, reflects the strong student interest in social justice, sustainable development, global interconnection, and public service. Undergraduates in the Global Development Organization led the planning for the major, an interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts and Sciences that gives students a firm grounding in fundamental development issues and the opportunity to research an issue of their own choosing. Majors begin by diving deep into foundational social theory and its modern interpreters in the field of development studies. Next, majors build on this base with a survey of current development "practice" by academics, nongovernmental organizations, governments, and the private sector. Finally, fourth-year students apply their learning to an independent research project guided by a faculty member.
Faculty members share students' commitment to global education. Vivian Thomson, assistant professor in the environmental sciences and politics departments, directs the Panama Initiative, a research and teaching collaboration between the University and the City of Knowledge, an educational organization in Panama. She and her colleagues, environmental sciences professor Jay Zieman and Dr. Richard Guerrant, the Thomas Harrison Hunter Professor of International Medicine and director of the Center for Global Health, work with counterparts in Panama on sustainable development and environmental health issues. Stanley Heckadon Moreno, a Panamanian researcher working for sustainable development to ease poverty, delivered a public lecture on the Grounds and led a session of Ms. Thomson's environmental thought and practice senior seminar.
Reem Alamiri, a 2008 graduate in environmental thought and practice who is now pursuing a master's degree in public policy at the University, was the first Panama Initiative Student Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Galeta Research Station. She completed a month-long fellowship to help professor Thomson study municipal solid waste management in Colón. Federico Humbert, Panama's ambassador to the United States, visited the University twice in 2008–09.
Fifteen students in architecture professor Anselmo Canfora's Studio reCOVER workshop created a design for a new 2,800-square-foot school in Gita, Uganda. Studio reCOVER focuses on designing architectural structures for disaster relief and humanitarian purposes and has evolved into a full program — called Initiative reCOVER. Members of the University's student chapter of Building Tomorrow, an international nonprofit organization that encourages young people to raise funds for children in sub-Saharan Africa, helped to fund the school in Gita. This is the first time the same university provided funding and design for a single project.
Learning and Serving Abroad
The University has seen significant growth in students' study abroad participation in the last decade. In 2008–09, 1,337 undergraduates studied overseas, as compared to 504 in 2000–01. And, for the second year in a row, the Institute of International Education has ranked U.Va. fourteenth among all U.S. colleges and universities in the number of students who study abroad, ahead of such larger schools as the University of Southern California and Arizona State University.
Students take advantage of semester-long programs in London, Lima, Lyon, and Siena among other locations. U.Va.'s Hispanic Studies Program in Valencia, which celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary this year, illustrates the impact these programs can have. Since the Valencia program's inception, more than 6,000 U.Va. students have benefited — living and studying in Spain while immersing themselves deeply in everyday language and culture.
For students interested in shorter study-abroad commitments, the University offers two-and-a-half week January-term courses overseas as well as nine-week summer courses. Students spent part of January learning about disaster preparedness in the West Indies as part of a course taught in St. Kitts and Nevis by Dr. Marcus Martin, professor of emergency medicine. Another group traveled to Guatemala to study the effects of the natural and built environment on public health.
The University is the only U.S. institution to belong to Universitas 21, an international network of twenty-one leading research-intensive universities in thirteen countries. U.Va. has created exchange programs with most of these universities. The University also has created exchange programs with universities in cities such as Auckland, Brisbane, Paris, Tokyo, and Helsinki.
A number of schools, including the Darden School of Business, the McIntire School of Commerce, and the School of Architecture, have made study abroad an integral part of their curriculum. James G. Maxham, associate professor in the McIntire School of Commerce, created Marketing Strategy in Global Markets, an undergraduate course for Commerce majors that includes a two-week visit in Shanghai and Beijing. Designed to provide students a close-up view of consumer behavior and cross-cultural marketing strategies, it includes presentations by business executives, visits to companies, and informal excursions that expose students to marketing on a street level.
The University as a Global Destination
Another component of the University's effort to internationalize the Grounds is to attract the best international students and faculty to study, teach, and conduct research here. The University has bolstered its administrative support for international students and faculty, providing individualized help with required visa paperwork, registering for courses, securing housing, and adjusting to life in the United States. This year, eight students from Kaohsiung Medical University College of Nursing in Taiwan spent a month at the School of Nursing, taking classes and improving their English language skills. Many full-time students also come from abroad. Of the 6,280 graduates who marched down the Lawn during Finals, 678 came to the University from other countries.
The University also attracts scholars, diplomats, and politicians from abroad and from the Washington, D.C., area who see the University as an important forum for exchanging ideas. Humayun Kabir, the Bangladeshi ambassador to the United States; Klaus Scharioth, the German ambassador; Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the British ambassador; and Pierre Vimont, the French ambassador, addressed University audiences. In front of a standing-room-only audience at the Darden School of Business, Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, spoke about the North American Free Trade Act and the current Mexican administration's handling of the swine flu epidemic, among other topics.
Conferences at the University also attracted an international audience. The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Miller Center of Public Affairs hosted a conference on the prospects for democracy in Africa featuring a keynote address by Jendayi Frazer, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs and former U.S. ambassador to South Africa. The Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures hosted UrduFest, a three-day celebration of the
fourth most common language in the world and the national language of Pakistan. The conference highlight was a reading by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, a world-renowned Urdu writer.
Bringing International Initiatives into Focus
The appointment of internationally renowned political scientist Gowher Rizvi to serve as U.Va.'s vice provost for international programs underscores the importance of these and other initiatives. Mr. Rizvi is former director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
As vice provost, Mr. Rizvi oversees the International Studies Office. He also has a central role in strengthening the University's connections with universities abroad, hosting international delegations, representing U.Va. in various international settings, and internationalizing student life on the Grounds in curricular and extracurricular offerings.