Since 1997, I have had the privilege of being engaged in RIT’s collective conversation on globalization and international education. I believe we are at an exciting and critical point in the community discussion. We have moved beyond asking the basic (naïve) question of, “Should we internationalize our campus?” to a more substantive and challenging question of, “How do we best internationalize our campus?”
President Bill Destler and Provost Jeremy Haefner have led the university in this conversation and in the process they have made many of the necessary structural changes. The decision to move to a semester calendar included meaningful discussion of how the change will better enable more students to participate in study abroad and international exchange programs.
Last year, we celebrated the dedication of Global Village and the creation of the Constellation Commons for Global Learning where RIT’s Study Abroad, Future Stewards and Global Programs offices are located for improved student support and service. The provost has continued to broaden the conversation by hosting a community forum on global education and by working collaboratively with Academic Senate and other divisional leaders to create both the International Education Working Group and the Academic Senate’s International Education subcommittee. The cross-divisional working group is focused on recommending policies and procedural changes to enable better engagement with, and transferability among, our global programs in Dubai, Croatia, Kosovo and the Dominican Republic. The Academic Senate subcommittee is an ad-hoc group focused on the question of how to best internationalize the curriculum and the campus.
In addition, RIT Dubai enrolled its first undergraduate class and moved to a new, dedicated facility. RIT’s American College of Management and Technology in Croatia committed to expanding to Zagreb and opened there this fall with programs in information technology and international business. These programs, along with our partnerships in Kosovo and the Dominican Republic, continue to provide excellent opportunities for students to study abroad at a site in the “RIT family.” To this exceptional array of resources, we are fortunate to be able to add over 1,600 international students, from 110 countries, who will influence our university through the diversity and cultural richness they bring to the campus.
I believe RIT is very well positioned to move forward with a comprehensive strategic approach to internationalization. However, there are many more critical conversations to be had and much more to do. Our faculty are increasingly engaged in research that is either inherently global in nature or that requires international collaboration. How do we best support their work?
Our students are increasingly well traveled and come to us expecting international work, study and research experiences. How do we best meet their expectations? Many of our students do not speak a second language, and many lack geographic and multicultural literacy. How do we better prepare them?
Our external stakeholders—corporations, government and nonprofit organizations—are looking to us to help address their global challenges. How do we best respond to their needs?
These are a few of the exciting questions we will need to address as we move forward. I am confident it will be a vibrant and rewarding conversation.
JIm Myers is director of the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies. “Viewpoints” presents insight and opinions on issues of relevance to RIT or higher education generally. To suggest a topic for a future essay, contact Athenaeum and News & Events Daily at firstname.lastname@example.org.