2018 Heiskell Award Winner: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Dr. Jill Blondin, Director, VCU Globe
VCU Globe has achieved success in preparing students to flourish in today’s global environment by enabling them to gain the knowledge and experiences to become global citizens. Many pursue global endeavors after graduation, such as (l to r) Laila Chaudhry, Carly Petrazzuolo, Jill Blondin, Ph.D., (program director), Jordan McFarlane, Segen Matthews, and Madison Kirkland who have applied for the 2018 Fulbright Scholar Program.
VCU Globe: A Global Education Living-Learning Community at Virginia Commonwealth University prepares students to navigate within and between global communities at home and abroad and in professional and personal contexts. Students are exposed to the impact of global migration and become more aware of globalization's role in the lives of people around the world. Students expand their knowledge, identity, and impact as global citizens, and develop their leadership skills in global education and in their academic majors. They share a purpose-built residence hall with instructional space and apartments for visiting international scholars, where they create and host internationally focused events that welcome the campus community.
VCU Globe goes far beyond just living and learning together. The students – currently 295 undergraduates in 59 different majors – take part in a program of active engagement which helps build their career readiness, integrates international students into the fabric of the campus, and fosters international perspectives among fellow students and faculty members. During their six semesters in the Globe program, students take 12 credit hours of globally-focused coursework, and they complete a minimum of 40 service hours with international communities on campus, locally and abroad.
According to Senior International Officer R. McKenna Brown, Ph. D. “VCU aims to provide its students with an understanding of Richmond’s local and diverse community, as well as the skills and knowledge required to become leaders in an increasingly global society.” Recognizing that “many elements of international education do not belong to a single discipline, but are relevant and valuable to all” led VCU to develop this interdisciplinary community that fosters discovery and innovation among students, faculty and staff and contributes to internationalizing the campus.
In the first year of the program, students learn about intercultural communication while serving as peer mentors to international students and interacting with international visitors. Working with ESL faculty, they provide English language support, work with native speakers to improve their own abilities in a world language, offer campus and library tours, accompany international students on day trips, and provide assistance at international student orientations. During year two, Globe students work with immigrant or refugee populations at 13 partner schools, community centers and clinics in the Richmond community. The experience is capped off senior year with a Global Education Senior Seminar and a Global Leadership Program. Students who successfully complete the requirements earn a certificate in global education, and those who chose to complete four courses in a world language or additional service work can also earn a Peace Corps Prep Program certificate.
VCU has developed four short-term study experiential learning abroad programs in order to extend opportunities for international study to Globe students who may not be able to go abroad for a full semester or year. These include service-learning programs in Mexico (providing English language instruction to a Zapotec community in Oaxaca) and in Botswana (empowering youth in Gaborone). A spring break program at the VCU campus in Qatar brings students from the Virginia and the Qatar campuses together to explore the challenges and possibilities of a rapidly globalizing city through site visits and engagement with migrant workers. A bilateral exchange program with Japan enables Globe students to travel to Simane University in Matsue in the summer and then host the Japanese students at VCU in early fall. In addition, Globe launched a peer-led reciprocal service program in Richman and in Guadalajara and Puebla, Mexico with a grant from 100,000 Strong in the Americas.
Program evaluations and student outcomes have demonstrated a positive impact on student learning, with a mean GPA and study abroad participation rates exceeding the campus averages. Three Globe students have received Fulbright Scholarships, and Globe students have received 2 Boren, 6 Gilman and 1 Critical Language Scholarships to date. By combining coursework, volunteer service and international experiences, the Globe community has an outsized impact in effecting positive change on campus and in the Richmond metropolitan area as well as around the world.