While there are a number of terms that exist in relation to both internationalization and diversity, there is not one term that is universally accepted for use at all campuses. Institutional context and culture impact how an institution approaches collaborative initiatives and—more specifically—the language used to define this work.
The campus-wide team should examine language used at the institution to discuss international and diversity/multicultural education, keeping in mind that there is no right term or set of terms. Institutions must ensure that the term or terms used are defined in a manner that represents both fields in a balanced way, appropriate within the institutional context, and that key stakeholders and committee members have a shared understanding of the definitions and terms utilized.
It is important to devise a communication strategy for sharing information about projects and initiatives related to the At Home in the World concept. Identifying the ways in which particular constituent groups prefer to receive information will ensure that messages are communicated effectively.
Examples of effective communication strategies employed by the project institutions included:
- Newsletters to the campus community
- Institutional websites that contain information on the collaborative work
- Social media
- Online learning platforms which support committee communication
Institutional Example: Thinking strategically about organizational structure and working-group composition also has the potential to improve communication. For example, Grossmont–Cuyamaca Community College District experienced the impact of enhanced communication as an outcome of a strategic reorganization in its committee structure which established its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.
As part of the current project, ACE encouraged participating institutions to engage in campus dialogues—a series of discussions with key campus stakeholders on the work taking place, the goals of the work, and how it might impact the campus community. These dialogues took on many forms, such as focus groups to understand varying perspectives, World Cafés, or regular meetings of stakeholder groups (such as dean’s meetings). These dialogues provided committees with insights on perceptions and areas of potential concerns and also direction for their collaborative work.
Senior leaders, such as presidents and chief academic officers, play a critical role in establishing successful collaborative efforts. They must be supportive of the work at the intersection of these two areas and show this through articulated support, resource investment, and regular communication with those in charge of furthering collaboration at the institution. In ACE’s 2009–10 research study, institutions that were highly successful in establishing and sustaining collaboration had senior leaders who participated occasionally in committee meetings, openly discussed the collaboration as a priority during institutional meetings (such as dean’s meetings, executive cabinet meetings, etc.), and allocated resources (such as time, finances, and personnel) to the development of collaboration. This served as a symbol of value of the work to the campus community that ultimately led to increased buy-in and interest by the community.
Leadership transitions present both challenge and opportunity. New leaders can either continue the supportive role of their predecessor or bring new energy to the initiative should support have been lacking. It is helpful for individuals committed to the AHITW vision to be involved in the selection of new hires. If this is not an option, it is important for senior leaders to be made aware of the AHITW vision early in their tenure.
Consider the following aspects when determining who might be critical to discussions of these initiatives at any institution:
- Who would you envision as critical members of a working committee to establish collaboration between diversity and international initiatives? Generally speaking, this would include a mix of faculty and staff who are committed to the work in either field but recognize the inherent benefits of engaging at the intersection of both. If a course of action for the working committee is readily apparent, it may also include individuals who have expertise that may lend itself well to the successful advancement of the work. View a list of team compositions at participaing project institutions.
- How many individuals should be a part of the working committee? As might be assumed, the larger the institution, the larger the working committee may need to be. However, it is important to consider the size of committees at your institution in general to determine an appropriate number of committee members. It is equally important to consider the structure of the committee. Larger committees may require a subcommittee structure, for example, to best engage all committee members.
- Who else do you see being connected with this project? Consider those individuals, campus units, or external stakeholders who may provide useful insights occasionally but may not need to be involved in the major aspects of the campus work in this shared space. This might include academic deans, student affairs administrators, student leaders, or even senior leaders without direct oversight of the work.
- Whose support MUST you have on your campus for the project to be successful? Consider those individuals who have strong voices at your institution and who might enable this work to be successful, or who might potentially be a challenger of it. This might include longstanding faculty or administrators who have championed the work in either area.
- Whose support might be a challenge to gain for this project? It is important to recognize up-front who are supporters and who are challengers. Consider institutional history and culture to aid in identifying these individuals and determine a communication strategy for engaging them in an appropriate manner to ensure they do not hinder the advancement of efforts. Collaborative efforts that engage supporters and potential critics of the work are more likely to succeed and have a long-term impact on the institution’s culture.
- What strategies can your campus employ to generate buy-in, or an institution-wide commitment, for work at the intersection of internationalization and diversity? Generating campus-wide buy-in will require paying a significant amount of attention to communication strategies. Keep in mind that this shared commitment should not undermine an institutional commitment to internationalization and diversity as distinct, separate areas (in most cases), but should serve to underscore the shared space that exists between the fields and the benefits of working at the intersection.
Focus on Faculty
As drivers of teaching and learning, faculty play a critical role in developing opportunities for students to achieve the desired learning outcomes. As such, it is important to get faculty on board early, if not at the outset, of an institution’s collaborative efforts in order to facilitate and advance discussions on student learning and the curriculum. Faculty members will be able to assist in identifying areas of the curriculum that currently afford opportunities for students to acquire the shared knowledge, attitudes and skills, and also in identifying areas that might be ideal for or benefit from the addition of shared learning outcomes.
If collaborative initiatives between multicultural and international education are not initiated by faculty, the campus committee should identify faculty champions to participate in critical discussions on learning outcomes. Reviewing the curriculum, revealing courses that embody AHITW concepts, or conducting faculty interviews or surveys to gauge experience with or interest in multicultural or international education, will likely expose faculty champions for this work. Likely a small core of educators, these champions are suitable candidates for participating in collaborative working groups or being invited to engage in initiatives designed to enhance this work on campus. They are also likely candidates to explore and propose shared student learning outcomes to guide programming and coursework at the institution.
If institutions are to impact student learning on a large scale, this work cannot be contained to only those fields with an international or multicultural focus. Therefore, it is also important to engage faculty from a variety of disciplines.
Institutional Example: North Carolina State University’s Faculty Fellows program, for example, received applications from and granted fellowships to faculty from a variety of disciplines. One of their strategies for reaching such a broad cross-segment of educators was to engage the deans of each of the schools. View an example from North Carolina State University's Faculty Fellows program (PDF).
At some institutions, faculty members are heavily focused on and motivated by their research interests. Leveraging their research is also a strategy to stimulate and sustain involvement in collaborative efforts.
Institutional Example: The University of Colorado Colorado Springs is developing an academic center to promote collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and instruction on multicultural issues within a global context.
Supporting Faculty Participation
It is not uncommon for faculty members, especially those with a passion for exploring multicultural and international synergies, to volunteer their time to advance collaborative efforts. It is important to recognize, however, the competing demands for faculty members’ time and to devise ways to incentivize participation in these initiatives. Project institutions utilized strategies from those as simple as providing food at meetings to more complex efforts such as offering faculty stipends for creating or enhancing courses (PDF).
Remember that faculty need guidance and support to successfully develop or enhance courses or learning opportunities that aim to enhance students’ intercultural competence. Engaging centers for teaching and learning or faculty development to offer workshops on incorporating shared learning outcomes into the curriculum can be an effective method of ensuring an impact on student learning.
Next Section: Student Learning at the Intersection