An unprecedented number of Indiana college students will get the opportunity to “think globally, live locally” through a new global learning initiative led by IUPUI in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College.
Supported by a $310,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program, the effort will integrate high-impact learning practices into first-year seminar and world language courses at both institutions to spark students’ understanding of the connections between global events and their local communities — as well as increase awareness about other global learning opportunities, such as learning a new language or studying abroad.
“We want to define the IUPUI experience as an international experience,” said Hilary Kahn, associate vice chancellor of international affairs at IUPUI and associate vice president for international affairs at IU, who leads the grant. “We want students to realize their larger position in the world and develop as individuals who understand and appreciate difference — national, political, cultural — and are able to engage across those boundaries. It’s about preparing the next generation to be engaged, active, educated, informed, and ethical citizens of the world.”
Through efforts supported by the grant, faculty and staff at IUPUI and Ivy Tech will integrate global learning practices in their courses — as well as in other aspects of the student experience, such as career and academic advising. Specifically, incoming students at IUPUI and Ivy Tech will encounter global learning practices through IUPUI’s First-Year Seminars and Bridge Week and Ivy Tech’s First-Year Seminar, or IVYT, courses, as well as new student orientation and world language classrooms.
Students who enter IUPUI after the first year will also encounter global learning practices through an internationalized orientation for transfer students, and academic and career advisors will guide more students towards global learning “pathways,” including internationalized coursework, world languages, global careers, and study abroad.
A key phase of the initiative kicks off next month with a series of faculty and staff workshops. Hosted by the Office of International Affairs at IUPUI, the sessions will reach First-Year Experience and IVYT course instructors — as well as world language instructors, academic advisors and career counselors at both institutions. The professional development series will target an initial group of approximately 100 faculty and staff on the Indianapolis campuses in the 2020-2021 academic year, then expand to Ivy Tech campuses across the state in subsequent years.
“Research clearly shows that employers increasingly expect students to enter the workforce with ‘global competency,’” said Russell Baker, vice president for academic affairs at Ivy Tech, who co-leads the grant. “Increasing the global competencies of our students was first added to Ivy Tech’s strategic plan more than 10 years ago, and this grant will help us better meet employers’ expectations by intentionally including it in our curriculum during their first semester at Ivy Tech.”
Significantly, Kahn added, the initiative expands opportunities to cultivate global mindsets to every student on campus, including individuals from racial and economic groups who’ve historically been underrepresented in traditional global learning experiences.
“We want to provide as many different opportunities for students to experience global learning as possible,” she said. “In the past we’ve relied too much on study abroad. While we’ve been working for several years to successfully increase access to study abroad, this effort will open up the global learning experience to all students at our institutions.”
And while a significant number of IUPUI students engage in study abroad — a record number of 640 students traveled outside the U.S. as part of their academic program in 2018-19 — she also notes it’s difficult to expect every student to participate in these experiences, let alone during a global pandemic that limits travel.
To illustrate the power of global learning in the classroom, even conducted remotely, Kahn points to a first-year seminar she co-taught last fall with Deb Keller, a clinical associate professor in the IU School of Education at IUPUI. The class, which met online due to the pandemic, provided students the chance to participate in virtual exchange with students at CETYS Universidad in Mexicali, Mexico, during which they both forged social bonds across cultures and engaged in discussions about the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, working to understand the impact of the global initiative on topics such as education and gender equity in both the U.S. and in Mexico.
“You could see everyone making connections across a variety of pathways,” Kahn said. “There was a lot of excitement around linking these big global goals to personal issues about which they were passionate.”
Project leaders anticipate global learning will be integrated into all 160 sections of IUPUI’s first-year experience courses, as well as Ivy Tech’s IVYT first-year seminars statewide, by fall 2023.