Workshop addresses internationalizing curriculum

Nicole Weible

Culture and experience may be implemented into all classrooms at Kent State.

The Office of International Affairs provided a workshop yesterday called “Internationalizing The Curriculum.” This is one of four workshops offered through the Office of International Affairs dealing with internationalizing education at the university.

This particular workshop, aimed at faculty, focused on bringing more culture and experience into the classroom and creating awareness for students who seek to study abroad.

Political science instructor Al Edgell said it all starts with the faculty.

While discussing possible strategies to bring international perspective into the classroom, Edgell suggested the university implement more culture studies.

“We should become more imaginative instead of just teaching studies and facts,” he said.

Kenneth Cushner, executive director of international affairs, created a PowerPoint presentation for the workshop with facts and figures detailing the concerns and issues in the department. The faculty is concerned about reaching out to more students at the university and in other countries.

“Take a look at the demographics,” Cushner said. “About 48 percent of students say they plan to study abroad, and fewer than 3 percent actually do.”

During the past decade, international students at Kent State have steadily increased, but this year the enrollment of international students has declined. The decline threatens graduate programs and institutional revenues.

Similar to Kent State, other universities have increased their international recruitment efforts in response to the decline.

Theresa Minick, adviser in the department of modern and classical language studies, addressed the benefits students may receive by studying abroad or learning culture and experience in the classroom.

“Some students think that they are going to live in Ohio for the rest of their lives, and this doesn’t relate to them,” Minick said. “But when students gain an international perspective, they will be able to solve problems at a different angle.”

Minick also added students who have studied abroad have connected with their counterparts. For example, some medical students who have gained an international perspective are able to help international patients by understanding their culture and language.

Both Minick and Cushner agreed it is important to implement an international perspective in all majors at the university. Edgell also explained any major can have international relevance.

“It is important to learn politics of other countries, especially because we are always dealing with social change,” Edgell said.

The faculty agreed that by striving for internationalization in the classroom, more students will be able to accept and tolerate cultural differences among themselves.

The four repeating workshops including “Internationalizing the Curriculum” will be offered again in March and April in the Student Center. All faculty and students are welcome to attend.

“I think the problem is that we keep teaching about other countries and languages, but there is not enough of actual experience. We want to reach across campus and help students gain international skills and knowledge to become more efficient in their careers and in their lives in general,” Minick said. “Experience is the key.”

Contact international affairs reporter Nicole Weible at [email protected].