UD praised as model for internationalization

5:49 p.m., Nov. 28, 2007--The University of Delaware, winner of the 2007 International Institute of Education's (IIE's) Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education, has been cited by the U.S. Department of State as a model in internationalizing its campus by welcoming more students from other countries and collaborating with international institutions on study abroad and other programs.

In a USINFO article, “Internationalizing U.S. Campuses Benefits Students,” published on the Internet by the Bureau of International Information Programs of the U.S. Department of State, UD and George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., which won the Andrew Heiskell Award in 2006, are highlighted as universities with common themes for successful internationalization.

In turn, both UD and GMU have experienced growing student interest in non-Western languages, are starting or expanding programs in Chinese, Japanese and Arabic and have seen significant growth in the interest in Spanish, the article states.

“Everyone benefits from these international initiatives, particularly our students,” said Lesa Griffiths, director of UD's Center for International Studies (CFIS).

Statistics for the 2006-07 academic year indicate that nearly 24 percent of UD's graduate students were international students and that about 42 percent of UD students will have participated in at least one study abroad program before they graduate. The University wants students to understand the political, economic, social and cultural changes affecting the world so they can “actively participate in and contribute to global society,” Griffiths said in the article.

For the third straight year, the University of Delaware is the only public institution named among the top 20 doctoral/research institutions in terms of undergraduate participation in study abroad. In its latest report on international education exchange, Open Doors 2007, the Institute of International Education (IIE) also ranks UD among the top four doctoral/research institutions nationwide for short-term study abroad programs.

UD has a long tradition in study abroad. In 1921, Raymond Kirkbride, a French language professor at UD, proposed the first U.S. study abroad program after serving in France in World War I. The first eight UD study abroad students set sail aboard the Rochambeau on July 7, 1923.

Today, UD has a variety of study abroad programs, targeting freshman as well as older students, and participation has increased 70 percent in the last five years, Griffiths said. UD's bachelor of science in international business studies requires the completion of five courses above the intermediate level in a chosen foreign language, as well as a semester of study abroad where the foreign language is spoken.

UD has instituted a Global Community Speakers series, bringing high-profile individuals to the Newark campus to discuss international events and global issues. Nearly 60 faculty members have received funds and attended a workshop designed to introduce them to new pedagogical strategies for the inclusion of international themes in their courses.

UD collaborates with close to 90 institutions throughout the world, Griffiths said. One example is a partnership with Babes Bolyai University in Romania, where UD provides technical assistance to Romanian scientists and government representatives in coordinating their efforts against avian influenza.

“The program has resulted in an exchange of scientists, veterinarians and graduate students, and we hope to continue our work together and learn from each other,” Griffiths said.

Article by Martin Mbugua