Generating Global Graduates at Southern University and A&M College Through the ACE Internationalization Lab

​​July 2018

Southern University and A&M College, a historically Black university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that serves about 7,000 students, joined the 12th cohort of the ACE Internationalization Laboratory in 2014. Through this work, Southern primarily aimed to fulfill its mission to graduate globally competent, competitive students who are prepared to become the next generation of world leaders and who engage across languages, cultures, borders, and disciplines to solve shared global challenges. In order to accomplish this, the institution used the Lab to better integrate an international/intercultural dimension into the teaching, research, and service functions of the university and to provide greater international exposure for its students, faculty, staff, and community.


Southern’s specific goals for the Lab process were to: 

  • Crystalize random international activities into a cohesive strategic direction
  • Formulate recommendations for further efforts
  • Delineate internationalization and global engagement as a core component of the institution’s overall strategic plan​


As Southern’s Lab leadership team reviewed existing internationalization activity and charted a path forward during the Lab process, recruiting and supporting international students emerged as a top priority.  

Recommendations from the Lab team to university leadership included:

  • Develop an international student enrollment management plan with numerical goals
  • Market intentionally to a diverse group of prospective international students
  • Find ways to convey Southern’s institutional strengths to an international audience

Aside from the international student piece, other recommendations included creating a system to track international activity (by students, faculty, and others) more intentionally and convening a standing internationalization leadership team to continue internationalization strategic planning on an ongoing basis.​


Since completing the Lab, Southern has made steady, measured progress on internationalization. As a public institution, state support declined substantially over the years, so funding has been a challenge. Nonetheless, the university’s office of student enrollment launched new recruitment and retention efforts that support a diverse population matrix—including international students, whose numbers increased from 131 (39 undergraduate and 92 graduate) in fall 2014 to 190 (33 undergraduate and 157 graduate) in fall 2016.

In terms of institutional structures, via the office of international education, the dean of international education initiated the Southern University Globalization Committee to help ensure alignment of internationalization initiatives and Southern’s strategic plan. In addition, the office of the president impaneled a group of national thought leaders to guide a world-class universities framework. This effort was designed to provide recommendations supportive of a diverse student and faculty population, as well as complementary infrastructure and global partnerships.

With the help of the networking opportunities presented by the Lab, Southern also expanded its partnerships with other historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to support global engagement and to provide experiential learning opportunities for our students. Following their Lab experience, a primary focus for the university was to further internationalization of the curriculum and research activities across all academic areas.


The Southern Lab team’s advice to other institutions—HBCUs and non-HBCUs alike—that are considering or embarking upon the Internationalization Lab centers on leadership and strategy. Southern's key recommendations are to:

  • Ensure that the institution’s leaders (including the president and other senior administrators) are fully supportive of internationalization; it is fine if they haven’t worked out the details—that is what the Lab process is for—but their articulated commitment is important and they should be kept informed and involved throughout the process
  • Include a vision for internationalization in the institution’s strategic plan—either going into the Lab or as an outcome of the process
  • Engage a diverse group of stakeholders in the internationalization conversation from the very beginning to ensure that efforts really take hold throughout campus

The ACE Internationalization Lab

The Internationalization Lab provides customized guidance and insight to help colleges and universities achieve their internationalization goals. Learn more about the Lab and how to apply.

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