This semester, despite the global pandemic shutting down international travel, Pacific has launched its Global Scholars program, aimed towards making student education more focused on international and diverse perspectives.
The program was started by Erica Andree, Director of the Center for Languages and International Collaboration, and Jann Purdy, a French professor and Chair of the International Studies Program.
The program was made possible largely due to two highly competitive grants Andree secured; the IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) grant, a $35,000 grant through the department of state to build student’s capacity for study abroad that Andree secured in 2019, and a Department of Education UISFI (Undergraduate International Studies and Foreigh Language) grant aimed at promoting advanced language learning.
These grants will allow for equitable access to study abroad programs for first year students, an opportunity that normally isn’t easily available to incoming freshmen, through a Global Scholars FYS course paired with a winter term study abroad program. The intent of the program as a whole is to make the full four year college path intrinsically connected to international and diverse perspectives, with a unifying capstone project focused through the lens of Global Scholars and a special Global Scholars designation applied to the transcript.
“We thought of it as a kind of way to internationalize any degree. So, no matter what your major is, you would have the opportunity through the Global Scholars program to internationalise, you know, a computer science degree, a biology degree, a degree in sociology,” says Purdy.
The program hopes to reach underrepresented demographics. “[Our goal] with that early exposure in the first year to study abroad and this international focus is to show that students who are bilingual, who maybe are from a multicultural heritage, even first generation, I would say any kind of historically underrepresented group has skills that are really important for adaptation to a new culture, because they’ve had to do it their whole life,” says Andree.
The primary aim of the program is to recruit students to Pacific specifically for the Global Scholars program, though current circumstances have forced some adaptation. “Because last spring wasn’t any time to be recruiting students for an international travel opportunity, we let that recruitment piece go,” says Andree. Future years of the program will still aim to recruit new students to the school for the program.
The program is being run this year in the form of two FYS classes focused on international studies and paired with online travel courses held over the winter. The classes are run by physics professor James Butler and philosophy professor Katherin Loevy, both of whom stepped in when the original plan for this semester, a travel course to Quebec run by Purdy and Andree, was canceled.
“We put a proposal together, and that proposal was accepted for the program, with the intention we would be offering this class not now, but two years from now,” says Butler. His travel course on the History of Information, run collaboratively with Shareen Khoja, had been held previously in 2019, and has since been adapted to pair with an FYS course for Global Scholars.
The course usually would involve a two week trip to England, but instead this year will feature in depth online curriculum on the same topics. The course is still being developed, but is planned to include virtual tours of historical sites, remote meetings with scientists and others related to the course theme, and close looks at the culture of the region.
“It’ll be very much like a travel course, it’ll just all be mediated through technology” says Andree.
International travel conditions permitting, the program is expected to continue it’s rollout with travel courses and student recruitment next year. — Dawson Oliver
Photo: Students pose with professors James Butler and Shereen Khoja from the History of Information study abroad course (James Butler)