Provost's Advisory Committee on Global Research and Education
2006 Heiskell Award Winner: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Dr. Peter Stearns, Provost
Speaking on how to achieve results as transformational as those at George Mason University, Provost Peter Stearns is encouraging. “You’ve got to invest a little bit,” he says. “It doesn’t require massive investment, but we do have to provide something to support the work of the faculty, to free them to develop meaningful programs.”
Since its inception in 2000, George Mason’s Provost’s Advisory Committee on Global Research and Education has made outstanding progress. Mason’s list of successful strategies includes five core commitments: (1) programming for a new Global Assembly to stimulate ideas and collaboration on global themes; (2) seed money for grant writing; (3) funds for international travel and conferences on a competitive basis; (4) top-up funds to encourage faculty to engage in international teaching, exchange, and research; and (5) encouragement of deans and directors to identify and hire faculty with impressive experience in international teaching and research.
The Committee established four major initiatives that have transformed the institution:
Global Initiatives and Support
Three new staff positions now support a growing number of programs and resources. These initiatives include the Center for Global Studies, a research center comprised of more than 75 associate faculty members, and The Global Assembly, an annual meeting of faculty with global interests. Both encourage multidisciplinary research and cross-disciplinary collaboration, and both are supported by a new global programs coordinator. A new international grant writer has secured funding for several projects, including Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL) funding from the U.S. Department of Education. A new director of China initiatives has forged partnerships with several institutions. One program now links Mason with seven Chinese universities and will expand in the future.
Internationalization of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Created in 2001, a new general education requirement in “Global Understanding” ensures that all Mason undergraduates are exposed to international learning. Two Title VI UISFL grants from the U.S. Department of Education are funding Chinese, Arabic, and upper division languages courses, as well as new faculty hires, development workshops, and courses in Central Asian Studies.
Changes also include a new Global Affairs major and a variety of interdisciplinary minors. Study abroad and intern abroad offerings now include the Global Humanitarian Action Program and the Summer Institute on International Development.
George Mason University’s partnerships continue to grow. In fall 2006, Mason will open a campus in Ras-Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, its first campus outside of the United States. In 2005, Mason was also among the latest U.S. universities to formally join the US-China 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program, bringing American and Chinese universities together to offer dual degrees to Chinese students who would otherwise not have access to U.S. education. The School of Public Policy began offering an M.A. in organizational learning and change management in Bangalore, India in spring 2005, and Mason’s English Language Institute in Jakarta, Indonesia began operation in 2004.
Services and Support for International Students
Administrators at Mason work to integrate international students into campus life, recognizing their value in enhancing learning for all. Named by Princeton Review as the ‘most diverse’ university in 2005, Mason’s international students represent 127 different countries.
Students seeking free English language training find an active English Language Institute that offers support and training to nearly 300 international students each year.
Housing options also help integrate international students into campus life, bringing American students with global interests into the same halls as their international peers. New on Mason’s campus, the Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society brings together students and faculty with international experience. Since its founding in 2001, Mason’s Phi Beta Delta has inducted 369 students, 70 faculty members, and 19 staff.
The Advisory Committee’s newest initiative sensitizes staff members across campus to cross-cultural issues and the particular needs and concerns shared by many international students. This small investment should yield positive results for both the students and future recruitment.