Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Learning Community at Education City

I was recently interviewed for the QF magazine, Foundation. The summary points from the interview, entitled "Learning Community (," (look on page 18+) allowed me to articulate some of the issues that I see as important to student affairs in a different cultural setting. I welcome responses to the content of the article. Please post a response if you have thoughts that push the consideration of student affairs practice in another national/cultural setting further.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Upcoming Chronicle of Higher Education article

I had the opportunity to talk to a reporter from the Chronicle of Higher Education about global student affairs and the emergence of the International Association of Student Affairs and Services this last week. I’m curious what will end up in her article but I attempted to make several points that reiterate here:
Student affairs’ unique contribution to global higher education – The tradition and history of student affairs emerged as a robust and professionalizing area in the U.S.A., although there are numerous examples across history and different cultural contexts that reflect a commitment to holistic and engaged learning.
Adapting North American models – When those working outside of the U.S.A. seek to implement student affairs perspectives/programs, they need to do this in culturally appropriate ways. The various cultures where student affairs ideas are spreading require this adaptation in order to be respectful and successful.
IASAS, NASPA, or ACPA? – The reporter wanted to know why IASAS was important and I commented that, while NASPA and ACPA are great organizations, they primarily serve North American interests and they are not truly international. Thus, IASAS is relevant as a place where those in global higher education settings can seek each others’ advice and push forward in their work (until and unless NASPA and ACPA decide to dig deeper into global student affairs practice ideas).

One of the things I find interesting about discussions of professionalization of student affairs is that it seems that there is an underlying assumption that student affairs/services is not “professional” unless it is done by a student affairs staff person (duly trained and experienced). In a global context, this is unachievable (and perhaps undesirable) on both philosophical and practical grounds. Philosophically, the “Student Personnel Point of View” of the early 20th century (U.S.A.) was drafted and published to advocate a perspective of students (holistic), the purposes of learning (for students to develop to their full potential), and the environment in which learning can take place (in/out of class, through experience, student organizations, etc.). While different types of programs and services were proposed, these were not advocated as the exclusive purview of a “professional” staff. Practically, those of us working in settings outside of North America must rely on a variety of colleagues to help deliver a student affairs perspective. There are many in global student affairs work who do not have professional training but have studied, worked, and advocated for the enrichment of student learning through student affairs programs and services. For those of us with student affairs backgrounds from the U.S.A. who work abroad, our role then becomes to advocate for a shared perspective and to differentiate what is unique about universities that are committed to holistic, engaged, and vital learning environments. The beauty of this is that working abroad has actually demanded that student affairs practice abroad return to its roots – advocating, serving as a catalyst, and educating others of the importance of this work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Let's get started

So, I think a good place to start is to ask what brings you to work every day. What are the encounters, experiences, and opportunities in global student affairs that bring you the greatest satisfaction?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Welcome to Global Student Affairs Inquiry blog

By creating the "Global Student Affairs" blog I hope to find colleagues who are interested in, or are, working abroad in higher education student affairs. There are communities that already exist in North American organizations (i.e. ACPA and NASPA) and there is the new IASAS (International Association of Student Affairs and Services); this blog is intended as a complement to these formal student affairs initiatives. This is an inquiry blog open to those wishing to join in conversation - meaning all comments should demonstrate appreciation for others' points of view. The simplest way to think about this is to always respond to someone else by noting what you understand their point to be and then proceeding with "and." "But" is not a word that is helpful in this context.

It is hard to tell where the "Global Student Affairs" blog might go but some possible topics could include:
1. How well is student affairs understood in higher education outside of North America? How is the understanding that others have helping or hindering progress toward establishing these programs?
2. How does the local context (political, economic, religious, social, organizational, and familial) influence the practice of student affairs? What needs to be considered if adaptation appears necessary?
3. Does it matter if those advocating for student affairs have professional training in the area? How can knowledge of, and credentialing related to, student affairs be expanded abroad?
4. What do those working outside of North America in student affairs have to offer to each other and to those in North America? What new ideas are being created abroad that would benefit North American student affairs programs?
5. What areas of present student affairs focus in research, theory, and program development are most promising for those working abroad? What areas of focus have little value?
6. What ultimately brings you to work every day and how do you maintain a depth of commitment and energy that allows you to be effective in student affairs?

There could be many more. I will invite a few colleagues to join (and I hope they will invite others) and then I look forward to seeing the first and subsequent posts that help to create the connections around the globe. We need each others' wisdom and support and perhaps this blog can get some of that started.