U.S. student participation in study abroad programs has grown 150 percent over the past decade. Yet, all too often, internationalization efforts at the nation's colleges and universities have been focused on a few sets of activitiesólike foreign language education, study abroad, recruitment of international students, area and international studies, or faculty research collaborationsówhich lack strategic integration into the curriculum and expectations for graduates.
Two years ago this month, I traveled to Kenya to sign a strategic alliance agreement that expands the partnership between the IU School of Medicine and Moi University in Eldoret to virtually all other schools at IUPUI. It is one of the most vigorous and comprehensive international collaborations undertaken by a campus. I will give a presentation about it this month at a meeting of the American Council on Education's Commission on International Initiatives and Leadership Network. The topic for the meeting is "New Routes to Campus Internationalization," and IU's Michael McRobbie will offer a "Presidential Vision for an Internationalized Institution."
With increasing calls for global competency as an essential component of higher education, universities are working to strengthen students' international experience.
IUPUI's approach is to engage schools and faculty across campus. This integrates international and intercultural dimensions into teaching, research, and civic engagement across disciplines. Further, as we build upon existing international partnerships, IUPUI expands relationships by building on success. For example, the Moi University partnership grew from the IU-Kenya Partnership, a medical school to medical school exchange, to the IUPUI-Moi Partnership, involving dentistry, nursing, informatics, social work, philanthropy, and a host of other disciplines.
In another strategic international partnership, between IUPUI and Calnali (Mexico), dentistry, medicine, and nursing students engage in service learning trips. Other partnerships are growing with the University of Hidalgo (Mexico), and China's Sun-Yat Sen University. We will recognize our students who study abroad through the "RISE to the Challenge" initiative, which I'll write about in an upcoming letter. RISE is Research, International, Service, and Experiential learning.
Last year some 400 IUPUI students studied abroad in more than 30 countries. Even as scholarships (like the Jesse and Beulah Cox Scholars program) help increase the number of students who study abroad, we also provide a global dimension for those who are unable to study abroad. At IUPUI we welcome international students to campus, use the city's own ethnic richness, and internationalize the curriculum to provide multicultural experiences for our students.
Take, for example, our recent opening of the IUPUI Multicultural Center in Taylor Hall and the appointment of Zephia Bryant as director. Ms. Bryant joins us after serving at McDaniel College in Maryland as director of Multicultural Services.
This fall, the Multicultural Center sponsored the first ever Caribbean Student Organization Fashion Show as part of its "Show Me Your Culture" program, which included a dance performance featuring models in traditional Carnival costumes.
Among the staff members of the IUPUI Multicultural Center is Noe Barragan, a native of Mexico and a senior at IUPUI this fall. An outstanding student leader, Noe is the president of CUSO (Culturas United Student Organization), a student organization that focuses on service to the community.
One of IUPUI's Signature Centers also contributes to cultural awareness through multidisciplinary research collaborations that have an impact on the health of communities where Latinos are born and where they live in Indiana. The new Binational/Cross-Cultural Health Enhancement Center partners with communities locally and abroad, such as the community of Tala (Jalisco, Mexico) to study the health implications of immigration, or Calnali (Hidalgo, Mexico) to study the effects of high-calorie beverages on nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and poor dental health.
November 17-21 is International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. In Indianapolis, the annual International Festival runs from November 20 to 23. It showcases ethnic food, music, dance, and other cultural activities in the Indiana State Fairgrounds' West Pavilion.
Although November can be dreary in Indiana, these opportunities to learn about and enjoy the rich diversity of our community and our world add spice to our lives and whet the appetite for travel and other cultural experiences in the coming year.
Charles R. Bantz