MHC Honored for Internationalization Program

Monday, March 10, 2014 - 12:00pm
Students in Italian 103 Skype regularly with students at the University of Bologna.

While other institutions talk of going global, Mount Holyoke has long set the standard. Our rich curricular offerings on global issues, the exceptional international diversity of our community, and broad possibilities for study, internships, and research abroad provide plentiful opportunities for students to become globally adept.

Now Mount Holyoke has been recognized nationally for an initiative to advance international education through synchronous, virtual interactions with global partners, the Deepening Global Learning through Virtual Collaborations: The Learning across Borders (LaB) Initiative.

The American Council on Education (ACE) and the SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning have named MHC as one of three recipients of their new Leaders in Internationalization through Technology Awards. Programs at the Great Lakes Colleges Association and SUNY–Cortland will also be recognized at the ACE annual meeting this week, at which Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sonya Stephens will accept Mount Holyoke’s award.

In early 2011, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and Research and Instructional Services launched the LaB Initiative. To date, more than 30 faculty members have become involved, often using videoconferencing in more than one class. The initiative grew to include the Teaching and Learning Initiative. In 2012, the videoconferencing project was dubbed VP-50, with the goal of reaching 50 faculty participants.

Working with international partners in videoconference-based classes, students have increased their understanding of global issues from different perspectives, of foreign languages and cultures, and of career opportunities in a global world. For example:

• Students built language skills in French, Italian, and Russian by Skyping with students in universities abroad.

• In Contemporary Chinese Opera, a renowned performer of Yue opera in Beijing spoke with students.

• Education professors connected students in a teacher-preparation class with students and faculty in South Africa, Pakistan, and Chile.

• Students in Introduction to the New Testament got a new perspective from an expert with archaeological experience in Palestine.

• For European Politics in Times of Crisis, students interacted with an expert in Berlin on European political institutions.

• In Economic Development in the Age of Globalization, students talked with Ghana’s minister for natural resources.

• To discuss career possibilities, an education professor connected her current student teachers with alumnae teaching in six U.S. states, Japan, Korea, and France.

• An environmental studies class connected with alumnae working at an Indian NGO, with a hunger center in Washington, D.C., and in graduate school.

• History students in How Wars End heard from an alumna in Kabul how issues they had learned about in class played out on the ground.

Faculty and student assessment indicate that, overall, the videoconference classes enhanced the complexity of students’ understanding of the international issue at hand. Students reported gaining a better perspective on their own place in the world and international issues, and a deeper appreciation of another culture or perspective.

Professors interested in participating in VP-50 should contact Eva Paus, professor of economics and Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.