Best Practices Task Force
Minutes of the meeting on October 8, 2003
Present: Cathy Benton (Lake Forest College), Patti Brown (Denison University), Roger Casey (Rollins College) Anne Ledvina (Birmingham-Southern College), Sue Mennicke (Southwestern University), Blake Michael (Ohio Wesleyan University), Michael Monahan (Macalester College), Eva Posfay (Carleton College), Milton Reigelman (Centre College), Elizabeth Hayford (ACM) Daniel Sack (ACM), Jennifer Wieland (ACM)
Dan Sack welcomed the group and introductions were made. Patti Brown will be leaving Denison in the next few weeks, and a new GLCA representative will be appointed to her post on the Task Force.
Dan reminded the group that the Task Force awarded ten grants, and, after the first year, awarded additional money to a few of the projects for continuation.
A booklet accompanies the video; it includes suggestions for students entering another culture, information on geography, etc. Eva described the book as "slightly academic but fun." The Carleton team plans to send one free copy of the video and booklet to the international affairs/off-campus coordinators at all Global Partners schools in the next month. Eventually, the video will be available to institutions outside GP consortia; Carleton will charge a nominal fee to cover labor and cassette costs only.
This year, the college is planning a week of events, with a symposium, speaker (from the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations), photo display (student photos from study abroad), and small panel discussions (about the college's Freeman Grant, etc.). The week will highlight experiences of students going abroad as well as international students on campus. This year will not be funded by GP, because the college has found the resources to continue the symposium as an institution.
Elizabeth Hayford asked if Lake Forest is finding ways to connect the experiences of international students with students going abroad, specifically regarding the experience of immersion in another culture. Cathy noted that there are a lot of discussions about making these connections, but it is difficult. People on campus continue to think about the two groups as very separate.
Eva added that the Carleton video does try to make these connections, to a certain extent. The video includes interviews with four students from different backgrounds with different experiences (i.e., international student, student with study abroad experience) talking about transitions, culture shock, and other shared experiences.
College and Monmouth College
Anne Ledvina asked about dissemination of these projects. Specifically, she wondered if reports on the projects will be available for the Birmingham-Southern symposium in June, as she would like to have them on the website for the symposium. Anne is developing a site that will have all the information participants need, including models of the GP projects. Dan noted that dissemination has been passive for the most part, but written reports of the projects are generally available.
College, St. Olaf College, and Southwestern University
University and Southwestern University
Sue and Andy led a session at NAFSA where participants talked to each other about their own liberal arts campuses. Sue felt they were successful in engaging others with the project. The presentation was targeted to attendees from liberal arts colleges. She and Andy will also present at the AAC&U meeting in January, and they would like to find a way to continue the work of the project. Sue noted that it definitely informs what she is doing at Southwestern; she appreciates the value of an ongoing thematic project with a wide scope.
Patti, a participant at the workshop at Bjorklunden, added that the workshop was a wonderful model for other groups to follow. For Patti, the conversation generated new insights into nuts and bolts ideas for approving students for study abroad at Denison. The discussion was very rich and in-depth due, Patti felt, to the small size of the group and the relative isolation of Bjorklund. The group was made up of only seven people (with a core of four).
Sue explained that the discussion focused on a description of what liberal arts colleges are doing in off-campus study. The participants made a serious commitment to be involved in the workshop; they read the paper and spent a good deal of time thinking about the issues and preparing comments in advance. The investment of the participants was key to the success of the project.
Anne wondered if this model could be adopted for discussions about internationalizing the campus, and Sue noted that it would be important for the group to be small and engaged. Also, voluntary participation is essential. The paper-the particular piece-shaped the conversation at the workshop.
In addition to the Partners Projects, there are three large-scale Best Practices Projects underway across the consortia.
College and Rollins College
The course will launch this spring. The course sequence begins in the semester before a student goes abroad, when the goal is to begin to develop intercultural competencies. During the semester the student is off-campus, there is web-based work and student interaction with the home campus, primarily journal writing. And finally, when the student returns to campus, there is a final term for re-entry.
Roger added that Rollins is currently experimenting with individualized learning plans to illuminate what it is that students want to explore interculturally. Student insights are shared with a professor and feedback is given.
There are a few major issues still to be resolved, especially regarding grading and issuance of credit. There are also a number of unresolved questions regarding financial aid. And finally, there is the issue of students who study abroad in their final semester at the college; their participation in the course must be carefully considered and defined. However, even with these remaining questions, Roger noted that there is a great deal of support for the sequence on campus.
Milton Reigelman noted that Centre is encountering the same difficulties with its course as Rollins, particularly regarding questions of financial aid. The course they have created is very similar to Rollins' course sequence, but it is only one and a half semesters instead of three and all program participants will take the course from the director of their particular program.
Sue noted that Southwestern is also trying to do something along these lines; they have a course that is two credit hours in the semester before a student leaves campus and one hour after the student returns.
Eva added that Carleton is in the third year of offering a one-credit course, which is for students who have felt alien or "other" at some time. The course is designed for students re-entering the college as well as any other interested student. At Carleton, pre-departure "training" has been the responsibility of the program director and the off-campus study office.
Patti asked Roger if Rollins is doing any evaluation of students going through this program to determine differences from students not going through the program. Roger stated that evaluation isn't being done currently, and Patti and Sue added that it could be very useful for the field to have this type of information.
Milton explained that he had observed Rollins' one-day study abroad seminar, which includes parents and people from all of the programs (80 students and 30 parents) as well as returnees and other advocates for study abroad. He felt that it was an efficient seminar and an interesting day. He also thought that the parents found it useful, and it put their minds at rest.
Roger noted that Rollins has also started copying parents on all of the educational information that is distributed to the students prior to off-campus study, but they do not give parents each others' email addresses. Elizabeth said that parents of students on the ACM Program in Tanzania shared information about other people's children, which caused a number of issues. Cathy noted that she had a bad experience of the same type when she took a group to India. The parents talked amongst themselves and made decisions about the program, which ultimately resulted in students leaving the program. Roger stated that this type of parental involvement is what study abroad professionals will see for the next 15-20 years, so it makes sense to figure out how to educate the parents at the same time as the students.
Anne noted that reorientation is especially tough for students. Students wish they had a "study abroad buddy" with whom to share experiences regarding re-entry into the college semester. One of her students had her father visit at the end of the semester and that really aided her re-entry. Her father attended the college reorientation party and shared the importance of his visit. Anne felt that this was a very positive role for a parent to take. Anne added that parents can too easily be an interruption when students are abroad. Incorporating them into pre-departure activities and encouraging them to be a positive part of the student's time away can help parents understand that their child will change because of the off-campus experience.
Elizabeth agreed that involving parents is a great idea. She suggested creating a booklet for parents, directed specifically to them as parents-essentially a handbook for helping understand the child's experience. It could also include information about visiting the student abroad, issues the student may experience, and what to expect when the student returns to the U.S. Eva suggested including a list of questions that a parent might ask a recently returned student to ease her/his transition. Anne agreed that this would be an important component; parents may not know what else to ask besides "How was your trip?"
Elizabeth noted that GP could facilitate a project of this type if someone was willing to take the lead in creating it. Anne stated that she would be willing to look at this question with another person, but there were no immediate volunteers.
Ideally, Anne would like to have representatives from each of the 42 GP colleges. The symposium can accommodate two attendees from each school. With funds from GP, Anne has tried to make attendance affordable; participants can stay on campus in a brand-new dorm. There isn't enough money to cover the cost of airline tickets for everyone who will attend, but some travel funding will be available, based on an application process.
Anne is currently trying to put together a steering committee, with a representative or two from each consortium, to help envision how the symposium will work. The steering committee will structure the symposium and develop a final report. The report will be given to the Mellon Foundation, and it could be presented at conferences or other venues. A definite goal of the symposium is to create a publication highlighting the work that has been done/is being done at all 42 colleges. The symposium is an opportunity for rich discussion about projects that are completed or underway; it will be theoretical and discussion-based, not a series of presentations.
In response to Blake Michael, Anne said she is currently looking for topics and proposals for discussion, particularly topics related to reorientation and internationalization of the campus. She plans a session on these issues as well as a session allowing important questions to be raised and considered. Another topic could be mandatory courses and pre-departure or reorientation. There are a number of related themes that could be discussed. Anne feels that the website under development is critical to the success of the symposium. This site will allow the work of the 42 colleges to be presented to the participants prior to the symposium. This will allow the participants to bypass discussions about what is currently taking place on their campuses and move directly to discussions on a higher platform, such as future directions.
The project has run into a few challenges so far, the most significant regarding funding. The project needs a significant amount of money aside from that given by GP, and Mike noted that the search for funding has been a bumpy road. Organizers had to scramble a bit, but Mike feels they are now back on track to meet their funding needs. To date, the project has received $25,000 from GP, $35,000 from Macalester College, $5,000 from the Minneapolis Foundation, and a small amount from the Minneapolis Westminster Presbyterian Church. They have requested $20,000 from the St. Paul Foundation and are currently exploring the possibility of requesting $25,000 from the Macalester Bush Foundation Grant. They currently have $65,500 and hope to receive another $20,000 minimum.
Mike noted that all of the substantive elements of the proposal are on track. His best guess is that 400 people will be involved in the conference itself. He added that immigration and higher education has turned into a very hot topic these days. Macalester has a good number of events focusing on issues of immigration this fall, specifically during International Week and discussions of quantitative methods.
Regarding the involvement of GP institutions in this project, Mike explained that Carleton College and Colorado College have made informal expressions of interest in joining and assisting with the project. He feels that the project is now poised to comprehensively determine which institutions would be most interested and attempt to get good representation from GP at the conference. He asked that Task Force members alert him to individuals from their campus who would be interested in the project and might like to receive an invitation to the conference.
Once GP representatives are identified, Mike (as co-coordinator) will work to insure that the question of immigration is considered in a larger context, beyond Somalis, and to insure that GP interests are included and represented.
Roger asked if a general broadcast about the conference had been made, and it has not. Mike explained that they are now ready to publicize the conference because they know what they can deliver. Because of the importance of the issue and the large number of Somalis in the Twin Cities, it is very important that the program be clearly defined before the announcement is made. Attendees will be scholars from around the world, as well as local individuals who deal with the legal, practical, and economic impact of immigrants. International education will be a part of the conference, as well as liberal arts. Sessions are planned for immigrants to talk about their experiences as well.
Eva mentioned that FORUM will be hosting a workshop on "Best Practices" in the two days after the CIEE meeting. She suggested issuing a call for papers to the GP institutions for inclusion in the workshop, which will be held in mid-November 2004 in Santa Fe.
Anne noted that she likes to receive information in paper form. She wondered, since the Task Force has discussed publication a great deal, if it might be possible to put together a journal or some similar type of publication.
Mike reminded the group that he is on the editorial board of Frontiers. A number of years ago Cornell used the journal as a vehicle to distribute conference papers. Finding a vehicle, maybe CIEE's journal, is one idea for dissemination. If the Task Force were to pull together summary reports of all the projects, they could be published by a journal as one thematic volume. It's a tremendous amount of work to create a journal on one's own, especially for a single issue. By farming out the publication, there is the added benefit of the journal's distribution, which is already established.
Elizabeth noted that there is a good deal of overlap between the work of the Task Force and the scope of Frontiers, so it might be worth looking into the possibility of publishing with them. Mike added that it would take a good deal of work from the Task Force or from a larger GP group to put the papers together and edit them; they would essentially be guest editors for the issue of Frontiers.
Roger suggested dissemination through a booth at NAFSA. GP could purchase a booth, staff it, and have photos, reports, and other materials available. This would involve marketing the Global Partners Project as a commercial product, but nothing would be sold. The booth would be disseminating awareness, which Roger feels is one of the project's biggest hurdles.
Roger asked if the Task Force is interested in disseminating ideas beyond the 42 GP colleges, and Patti felt that other small liberal arts colleges outside of the consortia might find the project's work valuable. Roger noted that GP's problem is a brand identity issue. No one knows to look to GP for ideas about international education. Anne agreed and added that people on the GP campuses don't always know about the project. She felt that by publicizing outside of the consortia, some of the 42 colleges might be brought in inadvertently.
Sue suggested that, as opposed to a booth where people will just glance and walk by, a publication would give people something tangible to help them explore the real depth of the projects. Roger felt that a booth would catch a few people and would provide an introduction to the project for a great number of people; you could offer something at the booth that people could take away. A booth would help GP and the 42 colleges to develop an identity as people who have good information about international education that could be useful to others.
Milton stated that having a booth at NAFSA with a handout briefly describing the projects would introduce more people to what is happening on the 42 campuses and within this project. He added that the Mellon Foundation would like the concept of us as "testers" and other people having the option of adopting these ideas. A booth at NAFSA certainly wouldn't preclude publication elsewhere. Anne added that making presentations at CIEE or NAFSA might be an efficient method of sharing the project's work with the widest possible audience.
Dan asked if the Task Force could make any plans for dissemination during this meeting or if there is a particular strategy that might be pursued. Anne suggested creating a piece on different ways to disseminate best practices or "strategies for dissemination." Dan offered to prepare a document to send out to help people decide what type of dissemination project they could work on. Eva suggested creating a call for participants.
Roger felt that if GP could corner a part of the market in which to present every year, this would guarantee a visible presence for the project. Roger also mentioned the possibility for disseminating the project's work in high schools and noted that dissemination possibilities extend far beyond liberal arts colleges.
Patti asked if there are plans to continue GP after the Phase II grant ends, and Dan said that a decision has not been made. Roger commented that if GP is not continued or if an umbrella program of some sort is not established, dissemination would be ineffective. Best practices and other disseminated projects will come down from an organization for a period of time, and then disappear.
Elizabeth commented that she is most interested in dissemination to the 42 GP colleges. She suggested small workshops that happen regionally-a replication of the workshop at Lawrence that Sue described-would be an effective dissemination technique.
Dan suggested funding consultations. For example, after Donna O'Connor (Director of the Office of International Programs, Rollins) finishes her orientation class at Rollins, the Task Force could give her money to visit all interested GP schools to talk about what she's done. Alternatively, a couple of colleagues could travel as a team to talk about a project they've developed together. Cathy suggested creating a list of people willing to consult in certain areas.
Dan mentioned that all three GP consortia have meetings of international program directors. The Task Force could invite the directors to meet for an extra day, pick up the expenses, and then let them talk about the issues on which the Task Force has focused. Milton asked about the possibility of having a few program directors from one consortium attend another consortium's meeting of program directors. He suggested that these types of interactions are how dissemination happens at a grass roots level.
Elizabeth added that at ACM Liaison Officers' meeting, someone always suggests a joint meeting with the GLCA Liaison Officers. She wondered if there is a more useful structure for these types of gatherings, and Patti suggested organizing meetings around interest groups. Sue noted that the three consortia are culturally very different; a useful starting point might be to send a couple of people to another consortium's meeting to see where the discussions lead. Interest groups could spring from those discussions.
Dan volunteered to compile an annotated list of these ideas and send it to the Task Force. He asked for volunteers to work specifically on dissemination.
Elizabeth suggested that the Task Force seriously consider a special edition of Frontiers; she and Dan will talk with Mike in more depth and then take the idea to the Coordinating Committee at the beginning of December.
Mike noted that in summer 2005 Macalester is planning a major conference on the liberal arts and the nature of liberal arts education. He would like to hear what events in this vein are going on across the consortia. Mike suggested creating a calendar of these types of events so others know what's happening; GP representatives could update the calendar. Anne felt that the calendar would be valuable because it would make the Global Partners link for the recipients. She also suggested that a colorful brochure about GP happenings, which could be disseminated on the campuses and beyond, would be an effective mechanism for conveying GP information.
One of the questions surrounding the Briefings is whether they are essentially preaching to the choir or whether they're reaching out to new participants. Elizabeth noted that each Briefing will have approximately 25 participants, one half deans and the other half folks interested in international education and nominated to participate by their dean. Deans will make up the core of participants because they're the ones who will act on the resulting papers. White papers and recommendations from the Briefings will be distributed to the campus presidents, and a commitment to continue to work together will be inherent. This collaboration is a core activity for Global Partners.
Anne asked who will facilitate the Briefings, and Elizabeth noted that this hasn't yet been decided. Greg Wegner in the GLCA office, who is planning the Briefings, comes from the Pew Roundtables, so he has a great deal of experience with this type of meeting. However, outside facilitators are certainly an option as well.
Dan suggested that dissemination workshops might be an idea to pursue. Another possibility for workshops would be to host focused discussions for up to15 people on certain topics, possibly those mentioned in the responses distributed at the beginning of the meeting. Dan asked the group to consider if these types of workshops make sense and, if they do, what the goals should be.
Mike noted that he does feel the workshops make sense. So often individuals have to create things on their own; having opportunities to work and talk together are very important. Milton agreed and commented that this type of workshop falls in line with earlier discussions about putting people together in a fairly informal setting. Eva added that these types of workshops incorporate both intellectual stimulation as well as concrete topics for discussion.
Dan asked if getting together for the sake of getting together is enough and wondered if there needs to be a product or a publication of some sort. Sue felt that it might not be necessary to focus on broad dissemination by requiring a product. If a workshop is useful for those who attend, that is one type of effective dissemination.
Elizabeth noted that a summary highlighting the discussion issues could be produced as a product. She suggested two workshops in summer 2004 and two in summer 2005. The Task Force could circulate a list of topics and ask people which workshop they'd like to attend, create a planning group, and move forward with this idea. She asked the Task Force to consider what might be a reasonable mechanism for moving ahead with this plan.
Patti noted that the model of the Lawrence workshop, which Sue discussed previously, is excellent. The small group size is important. Sue agreed and added that with a small group you must be an active participant and be truly responsible for the topic.
Roger suggested two workshop models: 1) hands-on training workshops for people who have never done study abroad and would like to; and 2) training the trainers workshops so those in charge of study abroad programs could go back to their campuses and train other faculty who want to take students on trips. Patti asked if there could there be an outcome from these training workshops, such as a manual, and Anne suggested writing the manual first and then doing the workshop.
Blake reminded the group that there are already two big events planned for summer 2004, the symposium at Birmingham-Southern and the conference at Macalester. Patti wondered if it makes sense to do these workshops during the summer since it's such a busy time for faculty. Roger noted that a long weekend during the academic year would work as well.
Dan suggested that the most important workshop topics might be: 1) recruiting and training faculty to take students abroad; 2) internationalizing the curriculum and the campus; and 3) intercultural pedagogy. Blake strongly supported a workshop dedicated to considering international opportunities for science students and faculty, which Patti felt was part of "internationalizing the curriculum." Roger noted that internationalizing the curriculum is a problematic topic because the curriculum is so culture-specific to each institution. He suggested that getting a discipline together is easier than looking at the liberal arts college as a whole.
Elizabeth asked if there are good models for thinking of international students as "research" in a sensitive way. Anne noted that immigration and other ethical questions are very important right now for those working with international students. Blake commented that the nature of international students is different now than several years ago; they are more like American students. International students have the same kinds of adjustment issues in the states as American students abroad.
Roger asked how it might be possible to roll these issues into a workshop, and Anne suggested offering two levels of workshops: 1) for people interested in getting ideas for integrating international students into the campus life experience; and 2) for people beginning to create such programs and for people who have already started or have had some success in doing this.
Eva noted that if you find a space in the curriculum where American and international students feel equal, you can have some success. She has taught a course called "Growing up Cross-Culturally;" it involves looking at one's life cycle with readings from a number of cultures. There is room in the curriculum to create space for both American and international students to become more self-confident and aware. There is also room to add a rigorous experiential dimension.
Elizabeth asked Eva if she would be willing to be the core of a workshop on this issue, using the video developed at Carleton and receiving assistance with the logistical organization. Titles for such a workshop were suggested, including: Developing a Cross-Cultural Studies Curriculum, American and International Students and Issues of Transition, and Bringing Together American and International Students Through the Curriculum.
Dan mentioned that Joe Brockington of Kalamazoo had volunteered to lead a workshop on the integration of international and off-campus experiential learning into the individual student's academic program and the institution's educational mission and programs. Elizabeth wondered if Joe's workshop theme is similar to what is happening with Milton or what Anne wants to do at her symposium. Sue noted that Joe's workshop sort of goes beyond the topics for the symposium and delves into curricular issues.
Elizabeth returned to the idea of science and international education, informing the group that Colorado College is working on a lab science program in Taiwan. She noted that there are plenty of field science models. She suggested that it might be valuable to bring together a group of people who develop programs as well as those who would like to do programs but don't know how, and Roger agreed that this could work well. Roger added that a focus on curriculum, or on training folks in the sciences for internationalizing the curriculum, might be effective.
Anne thought that there might have been a workshop relating to science and international study at Morehouse, in collaboration with the School for International Training. She thought that this might provide ideas for the science workshop.
Dan outlined the proposed workshops discussed to this point: 1) a Carleton workshop on cross-cultural studies; 2) a workshop to "train the trainers" for taking students off-campus; 3) a science workshop focusing on international opportunities; and possibly, 4) a workshop by Joe Brockington on the integration of off-campus experiential learning into the campus curriculum.
Roger suggested sending a brief survey to the consortial deans, asking: 1) If GP hosted a workshop on training people who have never led off-campus programs to do so, would you send someone? 2) If GP hosted a workshop to train the trainers (e.g., training your people how to train others on your campus), would you send someone? and 3) If there were only one of these two workshops, which would you prefer?
Sue felt that the survey was a good idea because it would help highlight this as a faculty development issue for the provosts. Milton added that it would be a good idea to ask if the deans if they have a person on their campus who could facilitate such a workshop.
Elizabeth related a conversation she had recently with Victor Nelson-Cisneros (Associate Dean, Colorado College) regarding ADA standards and policy for off-campus programs. Blake noted that this is a difficult issue; while it is important to consider individual circumstances, program providers should have a policy. In general, Ohio Wesleyan tells students that the college will do everything it can to accommodate them, but the host country does play a role as well. Elizabeth suggested that a workshop on ADA might be valuable; it could include discussions about program operations and provide an opportunity for policy sharing.
Blake recounted a conversation at the GLCA Liaison Officers meeting about Global Liberal Arts Education and underrepresented groups in off-campus study. Elizabeth commented that this is an ongoing issue, but it's not clear what should be done. Blake felt that there could be a fruitful workshop about enhancing representation in study abroad but added that it need not be a priority for the Task Force.
Anne wanted to reemphasize the idea of creating a brochure and encourage the Task Force to proceed with such a project. Elizabeth agreed and added that the GP colleges have a lot of information around and about that should be shared. Anne suggested that such a brochure include information about the Best Practices Projects, a two-year calendar, information about the proposed workshops, the Carleton video, newly developed "transitions" courses, and other project initiatives.
Dan thanked the Task Force for their good work and adjourned the meeting.
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