Virtual but Not Impersonal, ACE Internationalization Lab Cohort 19 Commences
September 20, 2021

Representatives from the 13 institutions of the 2021-23 ACE Internationalization Lab cohort gathered with ACE staff and lab advisors via Zoom Sept. 9 to get to know each other and learn more about the transformative journey on which they are embarking.

The opening meeting, the first of three milestone meetings for which the cohort will gather as a whole, began with introductions. Participants shared fun facts about their institutions and what they were hoping to gain from their involvement with the Lab. Personal connections were discovered as two of the ACE staff revealed that their alma maters were in the cohort and others reconnected with old colleagues. The cohort had already been active on their online community platform, but expressed delight to finally see each other’s faces, network, and engage in dynamic small group discussions.

After participants discussed the meaning of internationalization, globalization, and the impact of the pandemic on their campuses in virtual breakout rooms, Kara Godwin, ACE director of internationalization, tied their experiences back to the Lab. “Some of the skills that are required for global spaces are the same skills required for mental flexibility when dealing with major changes,” she said. Learning to create a good comprehensive internationalization strategy will also prepare the cohort for institutional agility, with resources and transferrable skills to face other challenges, she added.

A brief break was followed by a simple virtual yoga session led by Robin Helms, ACE assistant vice president of programs and global initiatives, to ease participants back into the event. They then heard more about the specifics of the Lab journey and met with their advisors to discuss their institutions’ distinct qualities and their global engagement goals and challenges. Several cited the confluence of the pandemic and leadership transitions at their institutions as providing the opportunity to finally join the Lab, something many of them had been pursing for years. Others were familiar with ACE’s programming through other offerings such as Virtual Exchange/COIL and Agile Administrators, and wanted to continue their growth.

Lastly, the organizers outlined next steps and the resources at Lab participants’ disposal. For example, even before the opening meeting, ACE hosted a pop-up Lab chat with Sarah Spreitzer of ACE’s government relations division responding to current events in Afghanistan and how the cohort’s institutions could support student and scholar refugees. Lab participants also have access to a number of guides and publications, including ACE’s Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses study, which is currently collecting data for its next iteration. ​