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Focus On Learning

FOCUS ON LEARNING

Student, Campus and Community Learning.


International Studies and Programs (ISP) is committed to supporting student, campus and community learning through a wide range of initiatives, programs and services.

As explained in the ISP mission statement, our focus has been on designing and implementing the campus’ international education agenda. We support academic and other programs designed to internationalize the campus and insure that students graduate with the international competence they will need to function in a world that is increasingly globalized.

ISP supports faculty efforts to internationalize the curriculum, and organizes and presents a wide variety of lectures, conferences, performances, exhibits, and other events which engage students, faculty and individuals in the community and inform and enlighten them about international affairs and other peoples and cultures.

Some ISP efforts are highlighted below but more complete details are provided in ISP’s Annual Report which is available elsewhere on this website.

Certificate Programs in International Studies.
 ISP administers several interdisciplinary academic programs which promote and encourage student learning in international and multicultural studies. These programs are recorded on the transcript and add a formal credential in recognition of a student’s academic focus. Included are six undergraduate certificate programs in international studies: East Asian studies, Modern European studies, Greek studies, Latin American Studies, international business studies, international affairs, and a minor in African/African American studies. We also cooperate with the Foreign Languages department in offering the Certificate in Modern
Language and Study Abroad.

In addition, ISP administers the Graduate Certificate Program in International Studies, an 18 credit hour program of study featuring advanced, multi-disciplinary course work.

Fellows and Endowed Professorships. 
ISP’s efforts have been based on a foundation of a faculty committed to internationalization. Each year, ISP appoints nearly 30 faculty as Fellows and provides financial support for their individual research projects. In addition, six endowed international professorships are housed in ISP: African/African American studies, Chinese studies, Greek studies, Irish studies, Japanese studies and international education.

Through the faculty Fellow and Endowed Professorship programs, ISP has an important role in recruiting and supporting faculty who have an international focus in their teaching and research and in developing academic programs including the programs in international studies, language offerings in Chinese, Japanese, and Greek, the international business program, the Greek studies program, study abroad programs, and the international MBA program. These efforts have direct impacts on student learning by making these important learning options available.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISS).
 This office was established in May 1996 as part of campus efforts to enhance internationalization and expand diversity of the student body. ISS coordinates services for undergraduate and graduate international students and scholars, including admissions, visa and immigration matters, information requests, credential evaluations, non-academic advising, initial campus arrival, orientation, social activities, and referrals to other campus academic and non-academic departments. In cooperation with other units, the office provides assistance with initial arrival and settling-in and encourages international students and scholars to participate in campus life, including international organizations, international speakers bureau, and other campus and community activities.

Prior to the establishment of ISS, the campus had no unit with a priority for recruiting and providing services to international students and scholars. In just a few years, the number of international students increased by nearly 300 percent. In Fall 2016, despite large fee increases, international concerns, and immigration difficulties, 513 visa-holding international students from 67 countries were attending UMSL. China was the country providing the largest number (197). India was next with 52, and Saudi Arabia sent 47. The presence of these students on campus contributes significantly to student and faculty learning.

Study Abroad Programs. ISP has increased both the visibility of study abroad and the numbers of participants. These programs enhance both student and faculty learning and help engage faculty in other internationalization efforts.

In AY2016-2017, 214 UMSL students, non-UMSL students, and community members studied abroad including 44 in semester or year-abroad programs and 173 in summer, intersession, or other short-term programs. 

Currently, we offer more than 100 study abroad programs in 45 countries. See the Annual Report for a complete listing. In an effort to expand participation in study abroad programs, we have developed additional programs during the intersession and during the Summer. In intersession 2017, programs were offered in Costa Rica, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates. In summer 2017, programs were offered in Belgium, China, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain.

German and Greek Culture Centers.
The German Culture Center (GCC) conducts programs and loans educational and cultural materials to promote interest in German language and culture. In addition, GCC hosts Kaffeestunden sessions which allow students and members of the community to gather informally to speak German. The Nicholas and Theodora Matsakis Hellenic Culture Center features permanent displays and replicas of Greek statuary, art, archaeological objects, and features special exhibits. Also, it has a large collection of reference books and materials about Greece and Hellenic culture, which are available to students and the public.

International Performing Arts Series.
 Resources from the endowed international professorships enabled ISP to present the International Performing Arts Series. The series celebrates the cultural diversity of St. Louis and introduces students, faculty, staff, and community audiences to less well known artistic traditions especially those that represent and illuminate performing arts of the countries and cultures of the endowed professorships, namely: Africa, China, Greece, Ireland and Japan.

The series brings five internationally recognized performance groups to campus each year. The eighteenth season began in Fall 2017 and is one of the major performance niches for the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Speakers, Programs, and Conferences. ISP regularly sponsors speakers, programs, and conferences to promote campus and community interest in international affairs and other cultures. In academic year 2017-2017, ISP sponsored more than 50 programs, most of them on-campus.

Student Leadership Development. International Studies and Programs supports a number of special activities as part of its efforts to develop student leadership and recognize outstanding student achievement. With Residential Life, ISP oversees the International House, which is the headquarters and residence for international student leaders. Also, each year ISP sends an undergraduate student delegate to the prestigious US Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis and, with the Political Science Department and International Business Institute, sends an undergraduate student delegation to the Midwest Model European Union in Indianapolis.

ISP sponsors two contests which recognize student achievement and offer prizes in the form of scholarships. The United Nations Day: A World Holiday contest makes awards for best student artwork, essay, and website design. The International Photo Contest makes awards for the best student photos of people or places outside the USA and displays the photos in a gallery on campus.

International Studies and Programs also sponsors the campus chapter of Sigma Iota Rho, the national International Studies Honor Society, which encourages and recognizes undergraduate and graduate student achievement in international studies.

In addition, ISP administers campus participation in three national scholarship programs for study abroad: the Student Fulbright Program, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, and the National Security Education Program which awards the Boren Scholarships and Fellowships.

International Trade Certificate. ISP cooperates with the World Trade Center of Saint Louis in offering the Chancellor's Certificate in International Trade. The non-credit certificate offers professional education to the growing number of persons in the region actively engaged in international trade. All courses are available in an online format.