By Keely Savoie
Getting a global perspective in a college classroom is no small feat. But at Mount Holyoke, students are immersed in the wider world from the day they arrive on campus, where nearly a third of the student body and a quarter of the faculty come from abroad.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the leading professional organization in the United States dedicated to international education, has recognized Mount Holyoke’s excellence in international education with the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization. Mount Holyoke is one of five award winners.
“At a time when every institution of higher education in the country is concerned with expanding international education to meet the demands of our time, we have been recognized as being on the forefront of these efforts,” said Eva Paus, professor of economics and the Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
In 2004, the McCulloch Center was founded as part of Mount Holyoke’s strategic plan to internationalize the educational experience of all students. The Center plays a critical role as the hub of and catalyst for internationalization efforts, but internationalization on campus doesn’t end there.
In many classes and off-campus opportunities, students and faculty analyze questions from cross-disciplinary or cross-cultural perspectives, making connections between the local and the global, and harnessing classroom learning to solve concrete problems. The many forms of integrative and cross-cultural teaching and learning at Mount Holyoke and abroad bring to fruition the College’s goal of educating women to be the global changemakers of tomorrow.
“It’s really the participation of everyone on campus, the collaboration with faculty, students, staff, and partners around the world that has allowed us to weave internationalization into the fabric of the Mount Holyoke education,” said Paus.
“The international diversity that we have on campus, as well as the considerable diversity in other dimensions, makes an enormous difference to the learning outcomes for all students,” said Paus. “Our students constantly interact with peers, professors, and guest lecturers who bring into the conversation experiences and perspectives informed by their different cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. As a result, all students develop a much more nuanced and complex understanding of the issues in class, be it U.S. foreign policy, global warming, or social media.”
Global Scholars-in-Residence and global challenges conferences add additional perspectives on critical issues of our time. And many faculty members use tele-interactions with experts from around the world to bring their viewpoints into classroom discussions.
Internationalization doesn’t end on campus, either. Mount Holyoke is committed to giving all students access to the life-changing experiences that learning abroad often provides. Over the last few years, the College has funded nearly all students who apply for a Laurel Fellowship in support of study abroad. And the College's 2013 pledge to fund one summer internship/research experience for every student now makes it possible for all interested students to have an internship abroad.
“We decided in the 2000s that as a part of our overall mission, it is important for every student to be globally competent: to cultivate cross-cultural awareness, understand the challenges of globalization, speak another language, and harness knowledge for the solution of the world’s pressing problems—both for their careers and their ability to be effective citizens of the world,” said Paus. “We are humbled and honored by the recognition of our achievements.”
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