GO Program Earns International Education Award for Susquehanna
SELINSGROVE— Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons accepted the 2013 Andrew Heiskell Award for Internationalizing the Campus, presented by the Institute of International Education (IIE) at a March 22 ceremony in recognition of Susquehanna’s Global Opportunities (GO) program and other related initiatives.
The Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education honor the most outstanding initiatives in international higher education, in five categories, among more than 1,100 IIE-member campuses. Susquehanna’s innovative programs help students achieve a high level of cultural competency that is critical for success in today’s diverse and interconnected world.
"For a university, winning a Heiskell is like winning a Nobel: it means you're the best,” said Mark Scheid, president and CEO of the Institute for Study Abroad. “Susquehanna received its award for excellence in Internationalizing the Campus, the toughest category. Development of the Global Opportunities (GO) program required strong leadership, campuswide dedication, and years of work. This distinction clearly places Susquehanna among the top U.S. universities in the field of global education."
Lemons and Scott Manning, director of cross-cultural programs, attended the awards ceremony in New York City, part of IIE’s annual Best Practices in Internationalization conference for campus professionals. Award winners presented program information at the conference so that other interested colleges could learn from their experience and adapt innovative internationalization strategies and models to their own campuses.
The GO program guarantees that all Susquehanna students will spend at least two weeks off campus immersed in a culture different from their own. Their time away is followed by a credit-bearing, critical reflection course on the experience when they return to campus. Currently students can choose from among more than 100 GO options, including Travel Writing in South Africa, Sherpa Life and Culture in Nepal, Focus Australia, and a Central America Service Adventure at mission sites in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to name a few.
“The Andrew Heiskell Award is one of the most important recognitions we have in the field of international education, and it brings a well-deserved and important distinction to Susquehanna University,” said Brian Whalen, president and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad and a member of this year’s Heiskell Award selection committee. “People who may not have known about the rigorous and serious-minded Global Opportunities program will now discover, through reading about the award, how their institutions might learn from and adapt Susquehanna’s innovative approach to global learning.”
Susquehanna is among only a handful of schools to guarantee a study-away experience for all students, and its post-travel reflection course requirement is unique. Students use class discussions, performances, presentations and creative writing to define how the experience changed them, with attention to cross-cultural learning goals such as understanding and recognizing ethnocentrism.
GO’s launch in 2009 means Susquehanna’s graduating class of 2013 will be the first in which every student will have studied away. Before GO, just 30 percent of Susquehanna students had off-campus study experiences.
“The Global Opportunities program is undoubtedly the most ambitious academic initiative in the history of Susquehanna University,” said Lemons. “GO is earning a national reputation for Susquehanna in the areas of international education and curriculum development. This program offers the potential to be a truly transformative learning experience for our students.”
“It is truly amazing how far the internationalization of Susquehanna has come in such a short time,” said Manning. “That is largely because of the widespread support and commitment across campus from the beginning. This award confirms our belief that every college graduate should be able to enter the workforce with cross-cultural skills, based on experience. At Susquehanna, we believe this is absolutely critical to the success of our graduates.”
Susquehanna has also increased enrollment of international students by 35 percent in the past year. The Center for Diversity and Social Justice assists in that effort through its scholar-mentor program, which trains juniors and seniors to help international students adjust to their new home.
The IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards were named for Andrew Heiskell, a former chairman of Time Inc. and longtime member of the Executive Committee of IIE's board of trustees. Heiskell was a renowned international and cultural philanthropist and a dedicated supporter of international education.
For more information about the award-winning programs, visit www.iie.org/internationalization.
ADDITIONAL VIDEO: Director of Cross-Cultural Programs Scott Manning participated in a panel discussion at the Institute of International Education 2013 Best Practices Conference in March. The video, titled "Plenary: Best Practices for Integrating Study Abroad into Comprehensive Internationalization," is available on the IIE website.