A Snapshot of Internationalization
The University of Michigan has numerous strengths upon which to build its future internationalization efforts. These strengths include an already globally-engaged faculty, the ability to recruit and retain world-class scholars, professional schools with strong international components, a well-prepared and determined student body, a breadth of curricular and co-curricular programs, extensive student support services, a large international student and scholar population, the availability of many off-campus learning programs--both in the U.S. and abroad, and the commitment of the academic units and University leadership to become a premier global university. Example activities that currently promote international engagement are described below.
- Established within the College of LSA in the early 1990’s, the International Institute (II) develops and supports international teaching, research, and public affairs programming that helps students and faculty members see the world through a global lens. The institute currently houses 18 centers and programs focused on specific world regions and global themes, which bring together faculty experts from across the University community. Each year, the institute and its centers distribute more than $3 million to University faculty members and students, which includes funds for nearly 300 grants for international study and research.
- Established in 1946, the U.S. Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. The program provides funding for one academic year of study or research abroad, to be conducted after graduation. Award recipients undertake self-designed programs in disciplines ranging from social sciences, business, communication, and performing arts to physical sciences, engineering, and education. In the past 63 years, over 100,000 students from the U.S. have benefited from this experience. In 2008 the University of Michigan received the greatest number of Fulbright awards out of all participating research institutions. The Fulbright competition is administered through the University’s International Institute.
- The Engineering Study Abroad office is piloting software for managing information about education abroad. StudioAbroad is a web-based system that includes online student program searches, electronic applications, and tracking. The system is integrated with the University’s IT environment and combines existing data from the University’s information system with self-reported data that are not currently collected (e.g. health, travel, and insurance information needed for education abroad programs). The software will also be used to deliver pre-departure modules; launch program evaluations; maintain a shared electronic record for course approvals, advising correspondence, international internships, volunteer work, and research experiences; and to facilitate travel and emergency communications. Campus-wide application of this system is under review.
- The Office of International Programs (OIP) of LSA administers over 80 programs in more than 40 countries. OIP programs are designed to enrich the undergraduate experience by offering students opportunities for cultural immersion, intensive language learning, and participation in other educational systems. Students earn Michigan in-residence credit for their coursework and may apply Michigan awarded financial aid to program costs. In fall 2009, OIP merged with the GIEU program (see below) into the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS).
- Established in 2002 and recently moved into the College of LSA, the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) supports global educational projects that expand learning beyond traditional classroom boundaries by creating new opportunities for short-term (three or four week) intercultural study of a global nature at field sites. These intercultural endeavors are selected from proposals submitted by faculty members to cover project costs. Grants for faculty members and students are used to promote intercultural learning across campus and to support ongoing intercultural education and intellectual development of undergraduates.
- The Global Scholars Program (GSP) is an academic living-learning community that provides sophomore, junior, and senior students the opportunity to engage with both U.S. and international students on campus and around the world. All GSP students, who are appointed as global scholars, are required to live together in the same residence hall, allowing them to learn from one another both academically and socially. Global scholars also have a significant role in planning and coordinating intercultural programs, with the support of their resident advisors. Required courses prepare students to address pressing global issues with diplomacy, to commit themselves to social justice, and to expand their intercultural awareness. To fulfill the academic requirement of GSP, students can choose between an Intergroup Dialogue or Global Understanding course. In addition to coursework, students attend monthly academic lectures and participate in collaborative group projects. These co-curricular program requirements allow students from a variety of majors to participate in a living-learning community that emphasizes interdisciplinarity. In 2010 GSP will move into the new North Quad Academic and Residential Complex.
- The Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) is a social justice education program that offers Intergroup Dialogues courses that are structured to help students explore social group identity, conflict, community, and social justice. The intergroup dialogues involve multiple identity groups, including those defined by national origin. Trained student facilitators--one from each represented identity group--encourage dialogue rather than debate, as participants explore similarities and differences among and across groups, and strive toward building a multicultural and democratic community.
- The International Internship and Service-Learning Program is a program for students with internships or service-learning commitments abroad who will be returning to campus after the overseas experience. It brings together small groups of students to consider goals in going abroad, receive assistance in finding programs and funding, and to attend preparatory workshops before traveling. In addition, participating students share experiences while abroad and advise other students when they return the following year.
- The International Institute (II) offers support to faculty members and students for research and coursework abroad through the Experiential Learning Fund and Individual Fellowships. The II’s Experiential Learning Fund supports faculty-led group travel for students that incorporate an education abroad experiential component into an ongoing course, group internship, or other academic program. Funded proposals promote student learning through participation in course-related activities outside the classroom and give students an opportunity to acquire and use insights about the society in which the program (or its overseas component) takes place. The II’s Individual Fellowship program supports students, regardless of citizenship, who are enrolled in a degree program and who wish to participate in internships or conduct research abroad. Funding is available for internships in private companies, government agencies, international organizations, or non-governmental organizations. The award also provides support for preliminary visits to prospective overseas dissertation sites by graduate students who are planning doctoral research on topics in area and international studies.
- The Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) of the Ross School of Business represents an innovative approach to research and theory in real-world settings throughout the U.S. and the world. Offered in entrepreneurially focused assignments during the final seven weeks of students’ first year, MAP builds on the core curriculum by enabling students to work in teams on select in-company projects where they apply theory to help companies overcome challenges and to affect meaningful change in a workplace. Each MAP assignment involves cross-functional teams that work with a cross-disciplinary team of faculty members. Teams also work closely with a consultant on team effectiveness and project management, as well as with host company executives.
- Beginning in 2010, all undergraduate students in the School of Art & Design will be required to complete an international experience. This change builds on an existing requirement for graduate students. Students can fulfill the requirement through credit for study abroad, research abroad, internship abroad, volunteering abroad, or through approved non-credit activity abroad. A three-week experience involving systematic reflection is the minimum requirement, and travel grants are available to all students in good academic standing. International students are exempt from the requirement.
- The Center for Global Health was formally established in January 2009. The center builds upon an extensive portfolio of cross-disciplinary work of University faculty members to foster innovative ideas and applications for global health. The Certificate in Global Health, which offers a formalized set of courses and also support for field experiences, is dedicated to “engaging [students] in analysis and action toward understanding and improving how globalization affects human well-being.” The Program in International Health takes a complementary approach to the study of relationships between developing and industrialized countries. A capstone project includes an internship in a developing country. Established in 2005, the Global Health Research and Training Initiative offers travel fellowships for students, faculty seed grants, and public presentations on campus. The initiative engages undergraduate and graduate students in multidisciplinary global health research, encourages innovative research collaborations across the University, and supports research and training partnerships with institutions in low-and middle-income countries.
- The Center for International and Comparative Studies provides a not-for-credit seminar for master’s and doctoral students intending to pursue field-based research outside the United States. The Graduate Seminar on Global Transformations offers students the opportunity to develop thesis projects, pre-dissertation proposals, and dissertation prospectuses with their peers in an interdisciplinary setting. The seminar increases students’ capacity for understanding research designs and systems of evidence in other professions and disciplines, examines ethics and values in the development and conduct of cross-cultural and cross-national research, encourages high-level critical discussion of methodology and epistemology, and exposes students to different qualities and characteristics of data in international research.
- The College of Engineering’s International Buddy Program acclimatizes incoming international students to their surroundings, allows them to integrate into the University environment more rapidly, and provides the opportunity to develop a more global perspective and learn about other cultures. Each international student is paired with a current University student who volunteers to act as an International Buddy.
- Orientation programs for international students and scholars. The International Center (IC) provides a variety of services and programs for prospective, newly admitted, and current international and domestic students, scholars, staff, and faculty. These offerings include educational and social events and workshops throughout the year on topics of interest, such as intercultural adjustment, immigration requirements, study, work, volunteering, and travel abroad. The IC also provides leadership opportunities and contact information for international student associations, and information about immigration-related topics for students and departments.
The China Task Force
Before moving into findings and recommendations, we highlight a recent, complementary University initiative that underscores the depth of the University’s interest in and commitment to internationalization. Following her 2005 trip to China with a delegation of University leaders that included faculty members and administrators, President Mary Sue Coleman commissioned the China Task Force to examine the University’s long-standing connection with China. Although this study has a distinctly regional focus, the University’s many varied connections to universities, organizations, and people in China made it a broad University undertaking.
In 2008 the task force submitted its report on how to strengthen ties with Chinese institutions, according to the University’s culture of mutuality and reciprocal engagement. Some of the key recommendations in the report are:
- Create an Institute for Advanced International Studies.
- Launch an initiative to develop an interdisciplinary, international curriculum.
- Enhance international visitor and scholar-in-residence programs.
- Create a University-wide facility in China as a platform for further collaborations. The complete CTF report is available on the president’s China Task Force website.
The University’s current self-study on internationalization, as described in this section, takes a diverse and bold approach, and steers clear of any suggestion that the campus’s commitment is limited to one region. Indeed, while focusing its efforts on China, the China Task Force recognized that Asia is only one of several focus areas, and in many ways the group viewed China as an example of internationalization more broadly conceived. This study echoes several important recommendations made previously in the China Task Force Report.