International education is more than it used to be. It also serves more students. As both the Japanese Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the U.S. Department of Education assert, international education is an imperative for ALL students today.
International education is as important for the physics student who will need to collaborate with scientists around the world as it is for the political science student. To use the term “international business” now seems redundant, as virtually all business is international in one way or another. There is no field in which international collaboration will not increase human knowledge. There is no nation that will not benefit from a globally engaged and competent citizenry.
In this atmosphere, what it means to be internationally educated has expanded. It continues to reference having deep knowledge of another place. It now also means being able to apply that knowledge, collaborate effectively, and see oneself and one’s country in broader perspective. There are now two equally important sides to international learning.
|Core knowledge & concepts||Personal growth & application|
It is increasingly important that study abroad programs point students toward learning goals from both of these columns. As discussed in Factors That Keep Japanese Students from Venturing Overseas and Factors That Keep U.S. Students from Venturing Overseas both Japanese and U.S. students are increasingly interested in connecting international learning to professional education and career development. There is also increasing national concern that they develop the competence they will need to navigate and lead in a globalized world.
There are, however, many forms of study abroad that focus on only one of the two columns. So-called “island programs” offer little interaction between international and host country students. Other programs emphasize classroom learning but not application while still others do the opposite. What is needed are programs that do both and that operate through close collaboration with host country nationals.
And such programs must now do this for students from all academic disciplines, as well as students who have not previously thought of themselves as the kind who study abroad and are uncertain of their ability to do it.
Once again, strategic international partnerships provide a rich matrix for developing such programs. They are inherently about bi-national dialogue and collaboration, and they can build this synergy into their programs by creating multiple ways in which partner students and faculty engage each other.
Each institution in a strategic partnership can also offer its partner well-established connections to the surrounding community, its businesses, organizations, and neighborhoods. Such connections, in turn, can provide universities and their students long-term, mutually beneficial possibilities for internships, service projects, and other forms of experiential learning, deeply embedded in community interests and needs.
Strategic partnerships are also extremely valuable for academic disciplines new to international work. Collaboration with international counterparts is one of the most effective ways for faculty in professional fields as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to broaden their perspectives on their disciplines.
Because they have a long-term commitment and ever-deepening understanding of each other, strategic partners can also develop programs that are targeted to their specific interests, disciplines, and needs.
Ultimately such collaborations have the potential to usher in a new stage in academic development, one in which nations work together to create new knowledge from collaboration and prepare students for the global interactions that will characterize their lives, professions, and communities. Innovations identifies some of the most promising of these developments in terms of student learning and mobility:
- Integrating study abroad across the institution
- Topical, thematic, and interdisciplinary programs
- Research and discipline-specific collaborations
- Internships, service, and other forms of experiential learning
- Collaborative teaching and curricula
- Student networks and zemis (Japanese-style collaborative seminars)
- Banding together with consortia and providers
- Working with businesses and communities
- Student success programs
Next up: Innovations »