BACKGROUNDER: IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education 2018 Winners and Honorable Mention Recipients
IIE presents the annual Andrew Heiskell Awards to recognize and honor the most outstanding international higher education initiatives that are being conducted by universities and colleges among more than 1,300 member institutions in the IIENetwork. You can see full profiles of this year’s winning initiatives and all 140 programs that have been recognized since the awards’ inception 2002 on IIE’s Best Practices Resource.
Winner: Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Globe
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. The students – currently 295 undergraduates in 59 different majors – take 12 credit hours of globally-focused coursework that leads to a certificate in global education. They complete a minimum of 40 service hours with international communities on campus, locally and abroad, working with immigrant or refugee populations at 13 partner sites which include schools, community centers and clinics in the Richmond area. Globe students serve as peer mentors to international students on campus, assisting with orientations, providing English language support, and participating with them in on- and off-campus activities. Students in the program 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. The Globe experience is capped off senior year with a Global Education Senior Seminar and a Global Leadership Program.
Honorable Mention: Northwestern University, Program in Global Health Studies
Grounded in interdisciplinary coursework on topics ranging from bioethics to post-conflict mental health, Northwestern’s Global Health Studies program combines a dynamic curriculum with unique international experiential opportunities. Students can enroll in the interdisciplinary minor, a new adjunct major, or the Accelerated Public Health Program, a five-year combined bachelor’s/master’s (MPH) degree. The required study abroad experience in public health, combined with abundant research and training opportunities beyond the classroom—including international research fellowships, an alumni mentorship program, numerous campus events, support for student groups, and special travel funding to attend global health conferences—provides students with a robust foundation to engage critically with the world’s most pressing global health challenges.
Honorable Mention: Rochester Institute of Technology, A Blueprint for Global STEAM Education
Rochester Institute of Technology’s Blueprint for Global STEAM Education represents a comprehensive and strategic effort to internationalize the university, based on a strong belief that internationalization is best achieved by engaging faculty and those who directly support students. To do this, RIT’s associate provost for international education and global programs established a thriving network of partnerships across divisions that has made global engagement a cornerstone of the 2025 strategic plan and a key part of the RIT culture. The shared governance model brings together representatives of each college on a Global Education Taskforce, which is a sub-committee of the Academic Senate. Members of the Board of Trustees are represented on an Education Core Committee, and members of the Student Government from Rochester and the international campuses sponsor joint international events. To foster even deeper collaboration, RIT created an annual Global Governance Summit, now in its third year that rotates among the campuses in Rochester, Croatia, Kosovo, China, and Dubai.
Winner: The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, Ghana Research and Education Abroad
The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute Ghana Research and Education Abroad (GREA) program immerses associate degree-seeking students in a month-long experiential learning program working in towns near Ho, Ghana, where they have the opportunity to develop their own research projects. Since its founding 15 years ago, 121 Ohio State ATI students have traveled to small towns in Ghana to study language and culture for four weeks while practicing applied agricultural technologies using a variety of sustainable development strategies. The trip is associated with a semester-long pre-departure global studies class, and students can earn three credit hours for the work they do during their time in Ghana. In the mornings, students take part in joint undergraduate and faculty research projects, microloan and savings meetings, herd health treatments and immunizations, and teaching enrichment classes at a junior high school. They spend their afternoons taking part in arts experiences, including drumming, dancing, and Èwè language classes; and in the evenings they attend lectures on Ghanaian life, book discussions, and planning sessions. Community development projects overlap with student research agendas such as assessing the economic viability of vegetable drip irrigation and preserving crops with solar dehydration. Students also develop enrichment lesson plans and teach class hours and serve as lesson partners at a local junior high school. Ohio State ATI students who have taken part in the Ghana program have gone on to have successful careers as social workers, nurses, veterans services providers, agricultural educators, and community leaders who have links to the broader world.
Honorable Mention: Pima Community College, Mexico Project
Pima Community College’s Mexico Project was born from the recognition that the campus is part of a highly interdependent transboundary ecosystem, as a community in the border region around Tucson, Arizona. Mexico is Arizona’s top trading partner, surpassing the next ten trading partners combined, and PCC has been part of the Tucson Mayor’s Friendship and Business Missions to Mexico. PCC has entered into agreements and programs with the Mexican government, businesses, and educational institutions, seeking to honor and expand its historical, economic, and community connections with Mexico. At the same time, the college has implemented a number of initiatives to support the success of historically marginalized students, including Mexican-Americans, who comprise a large portion of Tucson’s population. Initiatives such as faculty training programs, conversation partners, peer mentoring, and scholarships for local students have resulted in increased student recruitment, study abroad, international workforce development, and global engagement.
Winner: University of Massachusetts Lowell, Global Entrepreneurship Exchange
In the belief that aspiring U.S. entrepreneurs benefit from the knowledge of global markets and non-U.S. entrepreneurs benefit from access to technology and resources, UMass Lowell created the Global Entrepreneurship Exchange (GE2) to develop and promote partnerships and collaborations between the university and leading international institutions. U.S. students from University of Massachusetts Lowell study abroad in China and India and take part in global programs with students and faculty from India, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Pakistan, Vietnam, Guyana, Haiti and Nigeria. Since launching in 2014 with a pilot program in India, GE2 has grown to become a major university initiative, with 11 sessions that have brought more than 600 students from 10 countries together to collaborate in small groups on entrepreneurial projects in the U.S., India and China. The program incorporates both Study Abroad and an incoming Student Exchange during winter and summer breaks, attracting 150 to 180 students and faculty annually. Over a two-week period, students experience multidisciplinary and multicultural immersion in entrepreneurship complete with project-based activities and field visits. The program seeks to offer total immersive learning, with class discussions complemented by career-boosting experiential learning involving local tech companies and alumni.
Honorable Mention: Baldwin Wallace University, BW in Zambia
Intercultural competence is no longer a wish, but a necessity for clinicians in today’s world. BW in Zambia enables the university’s Master of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) students go beyond the classroom and gain real world clinical experience through a service-oriented study abroad program, allowing them to see one of the fastest developing African nations while learning to empathize with patients of different backgrounds. All graduate students in SLP engage with community partners in Zambia during the five semesters they are enrolled in graduate school, and are offered the opportunity to travel to Zambia to meet and work with community partners face-to-face on a study abroad program. BW in Zambia has helped the campus reach its Generation Study Abroad goal of doubling the percentage of students studying abroad while diversifying options across academic disciplines and locations. The relationships formed through faculty led trips have been strengthened by year-round distance and remote collaboration between students and faculty in Ohio and their community partners in Zambia, providing a sustainable foundation through which to develop ongoing high-quality, mutually beneficial programs.
Winner: West Virginia University, Partnership with Royal University for Women in Bahrain
Since 2009, West Virginia University has engaged in a collaborative, innovative partnership with the Royal University for Women in Bahrain, the first private university in Bahrain dedicated to the education of women, as well as the first private university in Bahrain accredited by the Higher Education Council of Bahrain. It was founded in 2005 by four brothers, all West Virginia University alumni, who set out to create a university to educate women to be leaders in the Gulf region. For West Virginia University, the partnership fulfills its land-grant mission on a global scale by helping a university to develop its capacity to offer a first-class education. The two campuses have worked together to develop substantive faculty research opportunities and student exchanges as well as curricular collaboration, benchmarking, continuing education, professional development, faculty exchange, and alumni development. The partnership is developing research relationships to help conquer many of the issues that face both regions, in the fields of energy, water resources, healthcare, and women and gender studies, as they focus on building skills to help in the shift from energy-based economies. Students from both universities participate in an annual joint debate on issues such as gender equality, religion, healthcare, social inequality, and social and economic issues pertaining to the Gulf region and West Virginia. To date, 600 students have taken part in these debates, and 90 students have taken part in a study abroad exchange program between the two schools. The broad partnership has grown to include both universities, their alumni, and the local and regional business and industrial sectors.