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University's International lab moving forward with Strategic Plan in mind

Members of Valparaiso University’s American Council on Education International Laboratory are making strides as they proceed toward goals in the 18-month collaborative process that began in August 2010.

Initial efforts have focused on reviewing the international content of Valpo’s academic departments. That process has involved an overview of courses and related programs.

The next steps for the ACE group include the forming of subcommittees, the compiling of preliminary reports, and presentation to the Valparaiso University community for feedback targeted in September.

Valparaiso University is one of eight institutions invited into the ACE 2010-2011 Internationalization Laboratory Cohort, which has the goal of preparing students to be citizens of a multicultural community by infusing international and intercultural dimensions into all aspects of university life.

Eric Johnson and Julie Maddox attended the ACE Internationalization Collaborative Annual Meeting in February in Washington, D.C.

“It was very interesting hearing about all of the other universities and where they are at in the process,” said Johnson, co-chair of Valparaiso University’s Internationalization Laboratory and Brandt Professor of Engineering.

Johnson said Valparaiso University is taking an ambitious route in the internationalization process because it is linking the effort to its recently launched Strategic Plan, which calls for every student to have a significant cross-cultural learning experience while attending the institution.

“I’m very excited,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to be very beneficial in the long run.”

Maddox, director of Valparaiso University’s study abroad programs, participated in a panel at the conference titled “Developing International Education Opportunities in Your Own Backyard: Partnering With Local Communities.” The panel was also offered as an ACE webinar.

In this presentation, Maddox highlighted the University’s more than 10-year partnership with the YMCA and the summer YMCA-Valparaiso, Chile Internship Program; and the Confucius Institute’s outreach and Valparaiso University’s own work with the Valparaiso International Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to internationalization efforts.

Current work by the international laboratory involves the establishment of subcommittees to address:

• Long-term international and domestic opportunities (one semester or longer)

• Short-term international and domestic opportunities

• International student integration

• Assessment

• Communications/marketing/advertising

• Faculty development/support/awards

An important part of the ACE group’s progress involves finding ways to share information on internationalization efforts throughout campus and beyond, Johnson said.

“We’re trying to look at ways of talking about internationalization across campus,” he said. “One of the issues across all of the ACE universities is communication.”

For more information on the ACE initiative at Valpo, visit valpo.edu/globalengagement/.