Global Opportunities (GO)
2013 Heiskell Award Winner: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Scott Manning, Director, Office of Cross-Cultural Programs
Program Overview: Susquehanna University is in a central Pennsylvania river valley, but it's also in a game preserve in the Gambia, West Africa, and among Incan ruins in the Andes Mountains. The centerpiece of Susquehanna University's recently revised core curriculum, the Global Opportunities (GO) program requires every student to have an off-campus immersion experience of at least two weeks, followed by a credit-bearing critical reflection on that experience once they are back on campus. Susquehanna is among only a handful of schools to mandate a study-away experience for all students. The campus has gone even further in requiring a post-travel course in which students reflect on how that experience changed them. Students receive credit for this innovative coursework, which includes class discussions, performances and creative writing, and centers around cross-cultural learning goals such as understanding and recognizing ethnocentrism.
Susquehanna offers a vast array of choices. More than 90 semester-long GO Long programs on six continents, including several programs exclusive to SU students. Each of the more than 25 Susquehanna faculty-designed GO Short programs last at least two weeks, during semester breaks or summer. Some focus on a specific major or interest; others are built around a service project, such as SU CASA, an award-winning program that takes students to Costa Rica and Nicaragua to serve congregations, clinics, hospitals, and refugee and immigrant communities.
With the Global Opportunities program in place, 100 percent of Susquehanna students have an off-campus study experience, up from 30 percent three years ago. To further its overarching goal of internationalizing the campus, Susquehanna is also recruiting more international students and faculty. Over 30 faculty members hail from countries across the globe including India, Iran, Japan, Morocco and South Africa. The campus hired an admissions recruiter for international students two years ago, and added other vital support for students once they arrive. It has achieved a 35 percent increase in international student enrollment in the past year alone. A scholar-mentor program that trains juniors and seniors as mentors to help international students in adjusting to their new home and facilitating their transition to the region has been particularly successful.
President L. Jay Lemons highlighted the role of international students and faculty in the leaps the campus had made towards its internationalization efforts. “They contribute a rich background of individual experiences and interpretations of the world that result from differences in cultural traditions and histories,” said Dr. Lemons. “The insights and views international faculty and students bring to the learning environment, along with experiences of students returning from their GO travels, all contribute to more meaningful exchanges in and outside of the classroom.”