Hope College students have study-abroad opportunities around the world. Now, members of the faculty will, too.
A $170,800 grant from the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) is supporting a new, two-year program at the college that will provide opportunities for teams of faculty to travel abroad and develop connections to globalize their teaching and scholarship, the better to prepare students for their lives after graduation. The support is through the GLCA’s Global Crossroads Initiative, made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“It’s essential that we prepare students for a life of service and success in our interconnected world,” said Dr. Annie Dandavati, a professor of political science and former director of international studies at Hope, who is co-directing the college’s “Hope Portal to the World” faculty-development program with Dr. Deirdre Johnston, professor of communication. “Whether they are planning to work abroad or to be based in the United States, they need to be able to understand and interact with people with perspectives and cultural experiences different than their own.”
Dandavati and Johnston noted that while the college has no shortage of faculty who support that outcome, many have found how to do so challenging.
“Many of the college’s faculty integrate global awareness into their teaching or lead Hope courses and conduct research abroad, but there are many more who would like to but haven’t had international experience or the opportunities to make connections that will enable them to do so,” said Johnston, who developed the concept and wrote the grant proposal after leading a two-year institutional study of how best to assist faculty in enhancing globalization in the curriculum. “‘This program will help provide them with those experiences and opportunities.”
Through the “Hope Portal to the World,” which will begin this summer, teams of four to five faculty each will spend two-four weeks conducting study tours on topics and in areas of mutual interest to the team members. The teams will connect with colleges, universities and other organizations in the places they’ll be visiting with a view toward learning more about opportunities to enhance their teaching or research and forming on-going partnerships.
The result, Dandavati and Johnston say, should be more infusion of global perspectives and content into existing courses, more globally connected courses, more student/faculty international research projects and more motivation to promote global learning opportunities for students.
A total of 10 teams will be supported through the summer of 2019, to be chosen based on proposals that they submit. The program is especially encouraging partnerships with the 16 overseas colleges and universities that are members of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA), to which Hope and the other 12 GLCA schools also belong. The overseas members include colleges and universities in Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and Switzerland.
Hope faculty have been leading students abroad and conducting research abroad — often collaboratively with students — for decades. The college’s first overseas program of study, the long-running Vienna Summer School, began in 1956, and students today can choose from among 300 programs in 60 countries. The many international faculty research projects through the years have ranged from studying seed dispersal in the rain forests of Costa Rica, to evaluating the effectiveness of a program to provide food and medicine for orphaned children in Zambia, to learning more about significant artists in Mexico. Academic programs on campus with a global focus include an international studies major. Among other activity at Hope, four members of the faculty are currently teaching globally connected courses with faculty from GLAA colleges and universities in India, Japan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Slovakia.