Focus On Learning
FOCUS ON LEARNING (February 18, 2008)
Student, Campus and Community Learning.
Staff members of International Studies and Programs (ISP) and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) are committed to supporting student, campus and community learning through a wide range of initiatives, programs and services.
As explained in our 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 speakers, 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.
International Studies and Programs administers several interdisciplinary academic programs which promote and encourage student learning in international and multicultural studies. These programs, equivalent to minors, 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: Africana studies (with options in African studies or African diaspora studies), East Asian studies, European studies, Greek studies, Latin American Studies, international business studies, and international studies. We also cooperate with the Foreign Languages department in offering the Certificate in Foreign
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.
International Studies and Programs’s efforts have been based on a foundation of a faculty committed to internationalization. Each year the ISP appoints a number of faculty (30 for AY2007-2008) as Fellows and provides some 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 undergraduate and graduate certificate 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.
Office of International Student and Scholar Services.
This office was established in May 1996 as part of campus efforts to enhance internationalization and expand diversity of the student body. OISSS 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 this office, the campus had no office with a priority for recruiting and servicing international students and scholars. In a little more than six years, the number of international students, including permanent residents and non-resident aliens, increased by nearly 300 percent. In Winter 2007, despite large fee increases, international concerns, and immigration difficulties, enrollments, 442 international students were attending UMSL on visas plus 315 permanent residents. Together they represent more than 100 countries. The presence of these students on campus contributes significantly to student and faculty learning.Study Abroad Programs.
In the last few years International Studies and Programs 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 AY2003-2004, 111 studied abroad including 21 in semester or year-abroad programs and 90 in short-term programs. In 2006-early 2007, 236 studied abroad including 99 in semester or year-abroad programs and 137 in short-term programs.
Currently, we offer approximately 70 study abroad programs in more than 30 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. New programs were developed in France, Japan, and Sri Lanka for Summer 2006 and a new faculty-led program to Costa Rica was developed and offered from December 29, 2006- January 13, 2007. New programs in China and Ghana were developed for Summer 2007. In addition, a new faculty-led program in Ireland focusing on crime, justice and history was offered this past intersession and faculty-led programs will be offered in Summer 2008 in Greece, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and Sri Lanka.
Visiting International Professor Program.
Despite the growth in study abroad program participation, most UM-St. Louis students will not be able to enjoy the benefit of study abroad. To provide more students with an international learning experience, International Studies and Programs developed the Visiting International Professor Program which began in the Fall 1999 semester.
Each semester the program brings scholars from foreign partner universities to campus to teach two semester-long courses. The visiting professors teach one course in the Honors College and a second one in their home academic discipline.
In Fall 2007, we hosted a social work professor from Toyo University, Japan, and in the Winter 2008 semester we are hosting a philosophy professor from Lund University, Sweden.
The Visiting International Professor Program has been very useful in giving more students the opportunity to learn from and interact with foreign scholars. In addition, this program has fostered research collaborations between the foreign scholars and our faculty and has strengthened relationships with our international partner universities.
International Performing Arts Series.
Resources from the endowed international
professorships have enabled International Studies and Programs to launch 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 at least 5 or 6 internationally recognized performance groups to campus each year. The thirteenth season began in Fall 2011 and is one of the major performance niches for the Touhill Performing Arts Center.
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. Each year the ISP sends an undergraduate student delegate to the prestigious US Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis and, with the Political Science Department, sends undergraduate student delegations to the Midwest Model United Nations in St. Louis, and the Model European Union in Indianapolis.
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, the ISP administers the campus Student Fulbright Program and encourages students to apply for support for teaching or conducting research abroad. In AY 2007-2008 two UMSL anthropology students received Fulbright awards to conduct research abroad.Staff Learning.
Professional Development. At the time of their annual performance review, each staff member of International Studies and Programs identifies one or more professional development goals for the next year. ISP has supported staff members in attending a wide variety of training programs including professional conferences, use of new computer software and management information systems, grants management, human resources programs (e.g., University policies re: affirmative action and sexual harassment), and made it possible for staff members to take regular academic courses and complete additional degrees to continue learning, improve their skills and enhance their future career opportunities.
International Studies and Programs staff members are well aware that continuing education is valued by the University and ISP and that support is available.