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Lehigh hosts global education workshop

Leaders in global education from around the country gathered at Lehigh University on March 30 and 31 to discuss the development of programs designed to create the next generation of global students.

The two-day workshop was conceived and organized by Lehigh’s Global Citizenship program, which is headed by Hannah Stewart-Gambino, a professor of political science who serves as faculty director, and Magdalena Grudzinski-Hall, the program development officer.

Representatives from Yale University, Haverford College, Villanova University, the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Rhode Island, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Indiana University at Bloomington, Kalamazoo College, Rutgers University and others shared insights and strategies for success from the most innovative programs across the country.

In welcoming participants, Stewart-Gambino stressed that the purpose of the workshop was to “shut the door and have a real how-do-you-make-the-sausage conversation” about the creation of global programs for students.

“The point of our conversation is to really get at the questions of how to get things off the ground,” she said, noting that some of the country’s most extensive and successful programs were represented at the workshop. “I think we can all learn a great deal from each other about how to make it work.”

Throughout the workshop, organizers were aided by faculty members who served as facilitators. They included M.J. Bishop, assistant professor of education and human services; Rick Weisman, associate dean for undergraduate studies for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and professor of civil and environmental engineering; Vince Munley, professor of economics; Mary Nicholas, associate professor and chair of Modern Languages and Literature; and Bruce Hargreaves, associate professor of earth and environmental science.

Attendees participated in a series of sessions to discuss the process of developing and implementing global citizenship programs at universities across the country. Discussions examined how to create innovative international opportunities that go far beyond typical study abroad programs, integrate global education in the traditional classroom, encourage widespread use of technology in the international student experience, and meet the needs of future global students

Lehigh’s Global Citizenship program was developed under the leadership of University President Gregory C. Farrington, in the belief that students need to examine their role as “citizens” in a rapidly changing world. The hallmark of the Lehigh program is that it is conceived as a “backpack,” or set of courses and experiences that any student—regardless of major—is eligible to assume.

Now in its second year, the university-wide program has identified several priorities for the future, which include working with Lehigh’s Study Abroad office, the International Students and Scholars office, and faculty study abroad directors to envision new and innovative international opportunities for student engagement.

Global Citizenship directors are also exploring how to leverage existing strengths in the university’s Martindale Center, the Global Union, the Global Village, the College of Education, and other areas to develop co-curricular initiatives.

The young program has already achieved remarkable growth and success, its directors say.

“The caliber of the student we’re attracting to this program is exceptional,” says Grudzinski-Hall. “By the time they come here to Lehigh, they are already extremely well-traveled, and they already might have fluency in a couple languages and are interested in learning a third.”

Moreover, they are the best ambassadors for the program by sharing their experiences with other students.

“They’ve done a great job spreading the word about the program,” she says.

For more information about the program, please go online.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Monday, April 03, 2006

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