"I thought we already internationalize. Why do we need to do anything about internationalization? Is this a priority? What is the purpose of internationalization? Are we doing anything in China? What is internationalization?"
These are some of the comments and questions that I've heard from faculty and staff during my first few months as Interim Dean (Internationalization).
In the early years of internationalization, the focus was on student mobility – bringing international students to Canadian campuses and creating a variety of overseas learning opportunities for domestic students.
Internationalization now encompasses the full range of teaching, learning, research and service opportunities; it looks to engage students, faculty and staff.
In 2007, the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC) surveyed Canadian post-secondary institutions about internationalization. The findings identified five key reasons why Canadian universities engage in internationalization, in rank order: to prepare internationally knowledgeable graduates; to build strategic alliances with institutions abroad; to promote innovation in curriculum and diversity of programs; to ensure research and scholarship address international and national issues and to respond to Canada's labour market needs.
In the President's Open Letter (May 2012) he states, "We will develop an international strategy that builds on our present activities in research, student and faculty recruitment and exchange, and study-abroad opportunities while advancing new directions".
How can we move this forward? In my role, I've been asked to facilitate the creation of university-wide strategies for internationalization. I am in the first stage of this effort, which involves having conversations with faculty, staff, administration and students to identify what we are currently doing that contributes to internationalization.
As a university, we are engaged in numerous activities related to internationalization across campus, and what I've discovered is that in many cases one individual/group (i.e. Faculty, department, unit or individual) is largely unaware of what another individual/group is doing. It is my goal to pull all of this information together to create a holistic view of our campus engagement with internationalization and to communicate this out to the campus community. This is just the first step in the process.
Internationalization is both a process and an ethos. What do you think? What are you doing? I look forward to hearing about your contributions and engagement in internationalization. I am available to meet with you, your department, Faculty, unit, in person or virtually.
Alison Nussbaumer (firstname.lastname@example.org, ext. 4433) is the Interim Dean, Internationalization, for the University of Lethbridge
This story first appeared in the February 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.