Maastricht Center for Transatlantic Studies
2005 Heiskell Award Winner: Faculty Programs
Nomination submitted by: Dr. Terry C. Rodenberg, Executive Director of International Programs/Professor of Sociology
This innovative faculty program has removed barriers to teaching abroad, and is quickly multiplying benefits for consortium faculty as they explore opportunities for scholarship, research and publication, and bring their experience back to home campuses.
The Maastricht Center for Transatlantic Studies (MCTS) offers creative solutions to the obstacles of limited time and financing that have traditionally strained the home institutions and families of faculty teaching abroad. Created by Central Missouri State University, the MCTS consortium includes 27 member institutions from the United States, Mexico, England, Wales, Sweden, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Romania, New Zealand, and Australia. Members share a facility in Maastricht, based at Teikyo University Holland. Time is often a major limiting factor for faculty interested in teaching abroad. To overcome this, MCTS courses are based on a Swedish structure with courses offered in three and a half week blocks, with students taking one course at a time. Faculty teach a specialty course for one month, limiting time away from the home institution and family. This schedule makes it easier for home institutions to cover an individual's absence, often without incurring additional expense or requiring faculty to miss classes.
Costs for transportation, housing and meals are also traditional barriers to teaching abroad. In the MCTS program, student fees cover the costs of faculty living expenses at MCTS, and Travel Grants are available for members with less-valuable currencies who might otherwise be unable to participate.
Nearly 200 faculty members have taught at MCTS since its creation in 1997, and their experiences have had a significant impact on their home campuses. "Faculty who have taught abroad often bring back a new perspective, and typically expand or strengthen the international content of their classes. In some cases, they may even get involved in establishing entire degree programs that involve an international focus-as was the case with faculty from our criminal justice program who have created a new academic minor in international criminal justice," says Terry Rodenberg, Executive Director of International Programs at CMSU. These same faculty established an Institute of Justice and International Studies which now sponsors a yearly conference on international corrections-based issues that attracts scholars from around the world, and in turn supports the Institute's professional journal.
MCTS sponsors major academic conferences on transatlantic issues biannually, and one need only look at the resulting publications to see the impact. These include two groundbreaking edited collections in transatlantic studies and the commission of a 12 volume Transatlantic Relations Encyclopedia Series.
The center offers students a unique study abroad experience that differs significantly from traditional "island" programs offered by many institutions, and hundreds of students have benefited since its creation. Students at MCTS are surrounded by faculty and students from multiple countries while living in the Dutch city of Maastricht and studying on a Japanese campus.
The transatlantic focus on relationships between European countries and the Americas, now one of the most valuable products of their collaboration, was not originally intended. First envisioned as a center for American Studies, the focus was shifted at the first meeting of the consortium, at the urging of European consortium members. "This transatlantic focus has become increasingly significant given the recent strains on the relationship between the American government and our traditional allies in Europe," says Terry Rodenberg.