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International Activities Planning Commission
November 18, 1999
Minutes

 

The agenda of the meeting included a discussion of site reports of University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, followed by a discussion of the draft interim reports of task group #1 (UVA students and faculty abroad—Julie Novak) and task group #2 (internationalizing the curriculum—Janet Horne). All task group reports are divided into three time-frames: 2020, mid-range, and what to do now. Because time did not permit a consideration of the reports of the remaining three task groups, the commission decided to schedule a special meeting on December 2 for that purpose.

Site Visits

University of Wisconsin

The Wisconsin site visit on October 17-18 by Bill Quandt and Brantly Womack had been discussed at the previous meeting, so the discussion of the report was limited to a few features. First, it is remarkably comprehensive in its international activities. Second, its success in the last ten years shows the advantage of strong central leadership. Third, it has been especially successful in retaining Federal research funding (primarily Title 6) and in its engagement state business and government.

Michigan State University

Brantly Womack visited Michigan State on November 7-9 and presented the report. International activities have been part of Michigan State’s core identity and mission since it reorganized in the 1950s and created the first deanship in international programs. The program was reinvigorated in 1995 with special emphasis on study abroad, and in the past 5 years the percentage of undergraduates in study abroad programs has risen from 14% to 23%. The goal is 40% by 2006, with the purpose of making study abroad a "normal and intergrated part" of the undergraduate learning experience.

Michigan State has 130 study abroad programs, with 54 programs created in the past three years. All programs are developed from faculty initiatives, and half of the new programs are semester-length. Most of Michigan State’s programs are short-term, however, and the International Commission discussed the merits of short-term summer programs. Short-term programs should not substitute for long-term ones, but they would be useful in encouraging faculty involvement and enticing students into longer term programs.

The treatment of international students and scholars at Michigan State offered a different model from that of University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin emphasized efficient handling of visas, and beyond that the provision of information, usually on the web. The goal was to minimize client contact during which the same information was given one at a time to different people. The Michigan State approach was more of a counseling model, based on establishing close relations with students. For instance, Michigan State runs a program in which each arriving international student is met at the airport and taken to housing.

Draft interim reports of task groups

Task group #1: UVA students and faculty abroad—Julie Novak

2020: The most significant long term goal is to aim for 80 percent participation in study abroad programs by 2020. It was felt that given the student body of UVA and the pace of globalization, study abroad twenty years from now should not simply be available but should be expected. Besides an overall goal for study abroad, which would include summer programs, we should also develop a target for long-term programs that involve language training.

An encouraging infrastructure for faculty international activities should also be developed

Mid-term: Among the recommendations discussed was the redesign of the summer session to make it more flexible for study abroad and to make financial aid available in the summer.

There should also be seed money available for the development of new programs.

Two forms of fifth-year programs were discussed. One would be a site-specific program in health sciences that would combine and language and cultural experience with health sciences fieldwork, and could issue a certificate or be designated as an honors program. The other would be a UVA international scholarship program that would fund fifth-year projects on a competitive basis across all areas and fields.

 

Things to do now

The UVA International Studies Office website should be redesigned and updated.

Currently junior faculty are discouraged from international activities by the tenure clock. They are constrained to do whatever most facilitates publication, even if international activities would be better for long-term contacts and for UVA as an institution. The problem of exceptions to the tenure clock is a complex one, but it deserves study.

ISO resources in the study abroad area need immediate improvement.

Task group #2: Internationalizing the curriculum—Janet Horne

The task group had a great variety of suggestions, only a few of which can be touched on here.

2020: A general language and cultural resource center should be established which would encourage the integration of language programs with the rest of the curriculum.

The number and depth of foreign languages offered at UVA should be set by student interest.

Language programming should span the entire range from informal, non-credit short courses like NYU’s "Speaking Freely" program to the highest-quality proficiency for a broad range of international careers.

A comprehensive set of area centers should be established in order to encourage interdisciplinary work with a regional focus and to sponsor international programs and lectures.

International students and scholars should be actively integrated into the learning environment.

Technologies connecting UVA to the rest of the world should be developed and utilized to globalize the learning environment.

University language and culture programming should be linked to high school and grade school programming, and adult programming should be developed.

Mid-range: Create 3rd and 4th year seminars that would be geared toward students returning from study abroad.

Create incentives for students to move beyond the basic foreign language requirement.

Reorganize technology infrastructure to support international objectives.

Review all language programs, including summer languages, for effectiveness.

Establish an incentive fund for inter-departmental international initiatives.

Create a coordinated Foreign Language Quarter at the site of the present French and Spanish houses.

Expand the number of less commonly taught languages.

What to do now: Identify gaps in regional coverage, for example, Southeast Asia.

Identifiy opportunities for new strengths in regional centers, for example, Middle East.

SCOLA: First, restore the international news programming that was available until two years ago and is available at most other Virginia universities. Then, work with Adelphia to make international programming available to the entire Charlottesville community.

Ensure that students can write in foreign languages at all public computer labs.

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