Monday, October 24, 2016

Cultivating civic engagement

Civic engagement is a primary goal for many countries around the world. And one of the places where the greatest impact can be made is during the university years. The question is how to achieve this goal with maximum impact.

With the erosion of civility in the political discourse of the U.S.A., encouraging students to look at their role in civil society has become increasingly important. Julie Woleman, writing for Inside Higher Education, provides five conditions that have the potential to deepen the impact of universities' civic engagement initiatives: 1) identify the fundamental issues, 2) understand the issue in its broader context, 3) support faculty wok across disciplines, 4) develop leaders, and 5) strive for lifetime impact.

The above conditions are very important as higher education seeks to move from one-off exotic experiences to systemic change. Driving for deeper outcomes is important both in the U.S.A. as well as in international settings. One tool to help is the "Social Change Model of Leadership Development" which is being celebrated in numerous conferences this fall. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the "Social Change Model..." is recognized as one of the most widely used and best documented models among U.S.A. institutions and it is increasingly used around the world as well.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Aurora - new cross-border European cooperation

As institutions around the world continue to strive for excellence and prominence, partnerships are becoming ever more important. The Aurora Network is a new multinational network of eight European universities designed with "the conviction that there is no trade-off between research excellence by global standards, broad access for students and an inclusive academic environment and societal impact in research, teaching and outreach." This vision avoids the either/or dichotomies that can sometimes be part of academic conversations, a welcome support for mutual and synergistic work.

Academic support for cocurricular student experiences

Student affairs and services staff always need friends. A recent essay by Steven Mintz and Partick Rutter advocates that faculty and student affairs should work cooperatively to align curriculum efforts with those in the cocurriculum - deliberately designed non-class experiences that relate to goals set out in the curriculum.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Challenging students to become "Reasonable Adventurers"

I read an article by Michael J. Stebleton titled, "Challenging Students to Become Reasonable Adventurers" in the September 2016 ABOUT CAMPUS magazine. The article dredged up one of early student development's most delightful theorizers - Roy Heath. I was first exposed to Heath's ideas when he spoke at a conference in 1976 at the University of Minnesota, a conference that pulled together some of the most promising theorists and educators of the day. Heath's model was validated on only a small sample of privileged white men attending Princeton, yet the ideas that came from the model were very useful in conceptualizing the goal of developmental programs both in 1976 and, as Stebleton demonstrates, today.

Stebleton described a 3-week trip to Sweden and Norway that served as a catalyst for his students to see the world in a different way. What he hoped would occur, and was documented by some of his students' reflections, was that they would exhibit six core traits: intellectuality, close friendships, independence in value judgements, tolerance of ambiguity, breadth of interests, and a sense of humor. These traits defined "reasonable adventurers" who Heath believed would be more effective in the world of the late 20th century.

This article advocates a variety of methods through which "reasonable adventurers" can be nurtured. One of the most important methods found in most rich learning/developmental experiences is introducing students to a challenging environment, one that causes them to fundamentally question truths they have held dear. Stebleton also encourages faculty and student affairs educators to work together to achieve the right balance between support and challenge through a variety of collegiate experiences.

Stebleton's article was a good reminder of a simple yet cogent student development theory that many have found useful in the past. He advocates for updated research with broader numbers of diverse students to modify the model for contemporary use. I would also add that, although Stebleton does not reference anything related to international students, the "reasonable adventurer" idea may actually be a description that most captures who the international students of today are. These gems in our midst would likely be able to stimulate deeper learning among their domestic peers if they were invited to do so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Branch campuses continue to grow in number

With a more detailed report to come from the Observatory on Borderless Education, early release confirms a continued rise in the number of branch campuses to approximately 250. China hosts the largest number and U.S.A. universities are the primary providers.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Australian universities seek to reduce proportion of international students from China

In an effort to protect themselves from over-dependence on students from any particularly country as well as a desire to diversify the campus, some of Australia's top-rankied universities have been strategically reducing the number of Chinese students they admit. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Two new higher education internationalization publications support student affairs/services

Interest in student affairs and services has been expanding throughout the world and this has been complemented by a growing commitment to providing students a more informed entry into the global world in which we live.  The challenges and opportunities that higher education staff and advocates are expected to address are more effectively addressed when ideas are shared, models are developed and modified, and when educators cooperate across borders to support the improvement of each other’s practice.

Two new publications are now available to help shape the future of international higher education. These two books are unique in their complementarity; they share several key authors and their content reinforces a shared message about enhancing student learning and development. These books are also distinct from each other, making them useful for different audiences and for different purposes.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development inCross-Border Higher Education (Roberts & Komives, Eds., 2016) is available through the New Directions for Higher Education series.

This book is relatively short (115 pages) and offers an overview of why and how institutions might look more deeply into the prospect of enhancing students’ learning and development both in and out of class. Comparative analysis of educational practices and modifying approaches across environments is advocated including examples from authors in four international settings. The book concludes with the two research and theory bases that are important to enhancing students’ experiences – student development and campus culture – as well as provides guidance on research, evaluation, and assessment, building staff capacity, and mutual partnerships. This book will be of interest to all those who value quality higher education no matter what their role. The intent is to convince broader constituencies of the merit of enhancing the student experience so that students worldwide will benefit from intentional learning and development opportunities.

Supporting Students Globally in HigherEducation (Osfield, Perozzi, Bardill Moscaritolo, & Shea, 2016) is available through the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) website.

Written for both new and seasoned student affairs professionals around the world, Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education, co-led by leaders from IASAS (International Association of Student Affairs and Services) and NASPA lays the groundwork for improving the lives of students. As globalization continues to flatten our world and internationalization efforts press forward, student affairs and services practitioners are uniquely positioned to assist students with attaining high-quality, holistic higher education, which in turn leads to the improvement of global society overall.

In Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education leaders from all parts of the globe contribute their expertise, presenting a variety of concepts in detail and with specificity, capturing nuance and country-specific flair, while also providing paradigm-changing examples. Overarching issues include:
  • Rapidly growing numbers of international students
  • An increasingly diverse and mobile student population
  •  Expanding diversity of the campus at home
  • Intensified cross-border cooperation in research and teaching
  • More and different staff exchange programs
  • Closer and more intensified cooperation of state actors