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September 3, 2013 — Strengthening support for faculty development and expanding outreach to Wyoming communities and schools are among recommendations resulting from a two-year University of Wyoming study to assess what UW can do to enhance international education in Wyoming.
Input from campus meetings and from town hall meetings and focus groups throughout the state was incorporated into the study that began in 2011, when UW accepted the American Council on Education’s (ACE) invitation to be part of its Internationalization Laboratory. As the state’s sole four-year public baccalaureate and research-intensive institution, UW was challenged to provide knowledge, skills and opportunities for students, faculty and staff to lead and excel in a world that is increasingly globally interconnected.
UW’s commitment to internationalization was included in the planning document, University Plan 3, that stated, “UW will cultivate an environment that attracts international scholars and students, we will enhance our students’ international awareness through the curriculum, and we will expand opportunities for UW students to study abroad.”
“It became clear that Wyoming’s future business leaders, entrepreneurs and workforce must be able to work with and understand people across the world as the state’s industries and economy face expanded connectedness and global competitive pressures,” says Anne Alexander, UW International Programs director who co-chaired the ACE Committee with Brent Pickett, UW/Casper College Center director.
The study’s top recommendation is to strengthen support for faculty development.
“UW’s has done an amazing job in recent years to provide resources and opportunities for students to study abroad and gain international perspectives, but we need to do more to support faculty growth in international scholarship and curricular development, and to develop and implement field courses abroad,” Alexander says.
A second recommendation is to develop an English Language Support Center to attract more international students to the university. The study noted, “An ELSC would aid in recruitment and retention of international students by providing a pre- and post-TOEFL (an English language test) infrastructure. The ELSC would offer support for academic transition, writing and communications skills, and English language instruction.”
Another recommendation is to explore opportunities to provide substantial critical language learning and to augment language offerings. The effort would respond to a demand for instruction in languages such as Chinese, Arabic and Japanese, fostered in part by the Hathaway curriculum in Wyoming and local school district efforts to promote foreign language learning. UW also would expand offerings to meet a strong demand for Spanish language classes, and additional faculty members are recommended to create a degree program in Chinese and a minor in Arabic language and culture.
During town meetings in Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Jackson and Laramie, and through focus groups in Powell, Rock Springs, Sheridan, Riverton and Torrington, people expressed significant interest in sharing UW’s international speakers, forums and activities. Community college personnel expressed interest in collaborating in ways to help them and their students gain access to international activities, including sharing programming and participation in UW exchange agreements with overseas institutions.
Additionally, a recurring request from statewide constituents is that UW takes the lead to develop and maintain a communications channel where information about all international opportunities occurring throughout the state can be accessed. These efforts could help bring global awareness to the state and deepen UW partnerships with the state’s community colleges.
“We found that people are really interested in working together to bring into their communities interesting international programs, and speakers with interesting research projects or amazing experiences abroad,” Alexander says. “They also are interested in expanding opportunities for community college students to go on exchanges that perhaps were arranged by the university. There was a lot of interest from people in maintaining what they are already doing in their communities and working with us as a partner.”
A final recommendation is to develop global learning outcomes that would be built into the curriculum, she says.
The full report can be found at www.uwyo.edu/intllab/final-reports/.
Flags representing the home countries of students attending UW are displayed in the Wyoming Union Skylight Lounge. Students from nearly 90 nations attend UW. (UW Photo)