Internationalization in Action: Engaging Faculty in Internationalization, Part 2

In the Classroom: Faculty as Stewards of the Curriculum

By Robin Matross Helms, Senior Research Specialist at ACE, and Alegneta Asfaw, Graduate Research Associate at ACE

The previous installment of Internationalization in Action, entitled On the Books: Faculty Policies and Procedures, focused on aligning the "nuts and bolts" of institutional practice to facilitate and support faculty engagement in internationalization. Policies – both formal and informal – related to hiring, tenure and promotion, and budgeting form a framework for faculty work, indicating institutional priorities and defining the parameters for how and to what extent faculty members can contribute to internationalization efforts.

While an effective policy framework is undoubtedly a critical piece of the faculty engagement equation, it is not an end in itself. Rather, one of the primary goals of this framework is to facilitate what happens in the classroom, i.e. student learning. The reason to hire faculty with international background and expertise, adequately reward them for international work, and provide funding and support for them to travel and acquire additional expertise is so that they, in turn, can facilitate the acquisition of international knowledge and competence in their students. 

Data from ACE's Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses study indicate that more and more institutions are developing formalized student learning outcomes that focus on international and global knowledge. It is primarily the faculty, as the drivers of teaching and learning, who are responsible for helping students achieve these outcomes. Making sure that faculty are able to apply their own international background and expertise in the internationalization of the curriculum and in their day-to-day teaching is critical.

Institutions should not assume because a faculty member grew up in another country, or conducted a joint research project with colleagues abroad, that these experiences will be reflected in the classroom and curriculum.  Providing targeted, well-planned, professional development opportunities – both on-campus and abroad – for faculty to enhance their international competence, and just as importantly, to learn to apply it in their teaching, is a crucial complement to policies and procedures that facilitate the acquisition of this competence in the first place.

Building upon Part 1 of Engaging Faculty in Internationalization, this installment of Internationalization in Action addresses some of the key challenges involved in ensuring that faculty fulfill their role in the internationalization of the curriculum and student learning. Read on for strategies, resources, and models for success!

See Engaging Faculty in Internationalization, Part 1 - On the Books: Faculty Policies and Procedures, for Challenges #1-4.


Challenge #5: Coverage for Traveling Faculty
Challenge #6: Ensuring Impact
Challenge #7: Disciplinary Differences
Challenge #8: Integrating International Students
Challenge #9: Where Do We Start?


Challenge #5: Coverage for Traveling Faculty

While we support faculty spending time abroad, it can be a hardship to have them gone from campus – both for faculty themselves and for their departments – and we worry about the impact on teaching and the curriculum.

Promote faculty participation in short-term programs abroad. Professional development opportunities abroad need not be long in duration in order to have an impact – especially when complemented by on-campus workshops and other opportunities for faculty to build upon them. Particularly for those faculty with little previous international background and experience, a well-structured, short-term stay can be a way to get a foot in the international door, and may lay the groundwork for deeper engagement and a longer-term international orientation. Programs that provide organizational and logistical support make it easy for first-timers to test the international waters.

More on Fulbright: Short-Term Options

While the traditional Fulbright program sends American scholars abroad for a semester or an academic year, the U.S. State Department is now exploring Fulbright options that allow for shorter stays. The Fulbright Specialist Program sends faculty abroad for two to six weeks to provide assistance on curriculum development and other projects at institutions abroad. And a new program will provide "serial" grants to allow faculty to travel abroad for short stays several times over a three year period while relying on technology to maintain contact with foreign partners between visits. 

Meghann Curtis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs in the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs notes that the purpose of such programs is to "make it more feasible for your typical academic and frankly also to make it more appealing for U.S. universities to endorse their faculty to go."

Source: "Fulbright Tries Out Short-Term Fellowships," Chronicle of Higher Education, October 28, 2012.

See Faculty Engagement in Internationalization, Part 1 for additional discussion of Fulbright opportunities.


Create abroad opportunities for faculty outside of the academic year. Encouraging faculty to spend time abroad when students are on break, or during the summer when teaching loads are typically lighter, can help mitigate the absent faculty issue. Faculty-led study abroad programs that take place during winter and spring breaks are an example; encouraging faculty to stay a few extra days to pursue other professional activities (e.g. research collaborations) can enhance their impact.

Beginning in the summer of 2013, Truman State University will pilot a summer academic program in China for Chinese students.Targeting students who are studying at U.S. institutions and are home for the summer, the 4-6 week courses are taught by Truman faculty, whose travel and other expenses are funded by the institution. Subjects for the pilot program will include English language and public speaking.The program allows faculty to build and strengthen their professional networks in China, generates tuition revenue for the institution, and serves as a recruiting tool to bring additional Chinese students to theTruman campus.  

Find opportunities for long-term engagement, but short-term stays. Teaching a course abroad, for example, may not require a faculty member to actually be there in person for the entire term. She or he might go for three weeks at the beginning of the course, then conduct the course via video conference using on-line tools for course management. While research collaborations are most likely to be effective if they involve a face-to-face component at some point, careful planning to identify when such meetings are necessary can maximize their effectiveness and allow for other work to be done independently. 

Stanford faculty participation is key to the success of the Stanford Center for Professional Development's (SCPD) programs in China. At the beginning of each course, a faculty member from the Management Science and Engineering Department on the home campus goes to China to teach for a week, then remains involved with students through email and videoconferencing throughout the rest of the course. The remainder of in-person instruction and facilitation is turned over to Chinese faculty who are recruited by the partner institution and approved by SCPD. 

Establish one-to-one faculty exchanges. Though a faculty member from abroad may not be able to step directly into teaching a full course-load, having someone to teach one or two courses reduces the burden to other faculty members in the department. "Fresh eyes" may also be beneficial to joint research projects, service engagements, and other on-going departmental initiatives, and students can benefit from an outside voice and inherently international perspective on course material. 

The Seattle Community College District encourages faculty to develop direct exchanges, particularly with faculty at institutions abroad with which the District has formalized partnerships. Various exchange models are presented, along with tips for establishing a successful faculty exchange, and a formal exchange proposal form.  

Provide technology support. While video conferencing can still be useful, it is no longer the only (or necessarily the best) option for bringing people together across distance. Skype, WebEx, on-line learning platforms, and a host of other low-cost tools are available to facilitate faculty joint teaching endeavors and other collaborations with colleagues abroad. Providing and promoting easy-to-access IT services for faculty, by IT staff who are on board with institutional internationalization efforts and understand the intricacies of applying these technologies in an international context, will encourage faculty to think creatively about technology-assisted collaborations.

SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

In the fall of 2006, The SUNY Office of International Programs (OIP) joined with Purchase College to create the SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). The mission of the Center is to develop more online courses with an international dimension throughout the SUNY system.

To carry out this mission, COIL presents workshops across a number of SUNY campuses, hosts conferences (which are open to the public), and has received funding from various agencies including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Open Society Institute. 

Since it was founded, COIL has engaged faculty and staff at over 20 SUNY campuses and in over 10 countries, helping to develop courses that are team-taught with an international partner. Students enroll in these courses through their home institution and meet on-line with their peers abroad, working together within a course module or over a full semester.


Related resources!
See Engaging Faculty in Internationalization – Part 1 for a discussion of faculty travel grants and programs to
bring international faculty to campus on a short-term basis.


Challenge #6: Ensuring Impact

How can we be sure that faculty international expertise – brought to campus by international faculty or acquired through faculty travel abroad – translates into the classroom?

Yes, strings attached. Require faculty who travel abroad – particularly when they use institutional funds to do so – to submit a written "impact plan" that outlines how they expect to apply the experience in their teaching upon return. A second report detailing actual impact should follow, and perhaps a third a few months later illustrating longer-term progress. Such reports should be considered in faculty evaluations, as well as in applications for funding for future travel.

At Allegheny College, all faculty traveling abroad on faculty development funding (whether from the College or through a grant) are required to include information in their proposals about how they intend to apply the knowledge gained in their work on campus. 

For example, a group of four faculty (from the departments of Art, Communication Arts/Theater, Modern Languages, and Psychology) traveled to the Middle East with the support of an Andrew W. Mellon grant. Upon their return to campus, they incorporated new content into their existing courses, arranged for guest lecturers to present on related topics, gave lectures themselves, and proposed and carried out a theater piece based on their experiences.  

When Grand Valley State University (GVSU) faculty who receive one of the institution's "Partnership Delegation Grants" return to campus, they are required to submit a report to the Padnos International Center that details how the experience will impact their classroom or lab teaching. A year later, they are asked to complete a survey to indicate the longer-term impact of the experience, including its application in their teaching and other work.

Similarly, Maricopa Community Colleges District requires participants in faculty development programs abroad to complete both an international travel report (within 30 days of their return to the U.S.) and a Status of Outcomes report a year later. 

Emphasize networking and multi-functional relationships. Any faculty travel abroad, whether for teaching, research, or conference attendance, should include time for meeting and building relationships with international colleagues.  Faculty should be encouraged to consider how existing relationships can be "repurposed" or expanded to benefit students, e.g. a research collaborator abroad could deliver a virtual lecture for a faculty member's class. International faculty can tap connections at their undergraduate or graduate institutions in their home countries, and may have access to scholarly networks that can contribute internationally-focused course materials, teach a joint class, etc.

Donna Scarboro, The George Washington University's Associate Provost for International Programs, notes that it is important to keep faculty informed of existing partnerships with institutions abroad, and to facilitate meetings with contacts at those institutions when faculty are nearby. She encourages faculty to deliberately incorporate meetings and other engagements into their travel schedules in order to expand their own professional networks.

Professional development, part 1: Mobilize on-campus expertise. Designing on-campus, pedagogy-focused workshops to help faculty apply their international experience in the classroom is key to maximizing impact.  Fortunately most campuses have a wealth of pedagogical expertise available to assist faculty, and experts who are ready and able to implement such programs – often, it is a matter of finding and mobilizing this expertise. Good places to start are education schools/departments, "teaching and learning" centers or the equivalent, and education abroad centers that help students integrate their study abroad experiences into on-campus learning.

Engaging the On-Campus Experts on Teaching and Learning
  • Purdue University's Center for Instructional Excellence administers the Global Learning Faculty Development Program, which is designed to "assist Purdue instructors to be stewards in optimizing and transforming classroom teaching and learning by integrating global issues, activities, and experiences into class content and learning objectives, so that all students, international and national alike, have a venue for unique, realistic global experiences and global learning."
  • The Centre for Student Engagement and Learning Innovation at Canada's Thompson Rivers University offers a two-part workshop that walks faculty through the process of internationalizing their courses. 
  • Earlier this year, The University of Minnesota's Global Programs and Strategy Alliance organized a series of lectures and workshops for faculty that focused on internationalizing the curriculum. The institution's College of Education and Human Development and Center for Teaching and Learning co-sponsored the events.

Professional development, part 2: Tap outside experts. For those institutions with limited expertise on campus, other institutions with a stronger infrastructure in this area can be a good resource. Collaboration with peer institutions on joint programs, e.g. through consortia networks, provides an opportunity to pool expertise, and sending faculty to established outside programs (again, with "strings attached" to maximize impact) can be an effective investment.

Indiana University-Bloomington's 4-day Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization is open to faculty, staff and administrators from institutions around the country. Topics covered include innovative pedagogies, teaching and assessment of global learning objectives, and comprehensive internationalization more broadly.

In collaboration with Centers for Business Education and Research at a variety of institutions, Michigan State University's Broad College of Business offers a biennial International Business Institute for Community College Faculty. The purpose of the Institute is "to provide participants with the knowledge, experience and resources they need to internationalize general business courses and/or develop specialized international business courses at the two-year college level."



Challenge #7: Disciplinary Differences

It's easy for faculty in, say, the East Asian Studies department to bring an international perspective to their courses. But what about faculty in disciplines that don't naturally seem to be international in focus?

Walk faculty through the process. Faculty development programs that go beyond the theoretical "here's what you should do" to "let's do this together" are likely to be most effective. Faculty should walk away with a redesigned syllabus or other tangible product, as well as an understanding of how to apply the process to other courses and the curriculum in their departments more broadly. Programs that bring together faculty from multiple fields can help participants think beyond the perceived limits of their disciplines and adopt creative approaches from other areas of study.

Curriculum and Course Design Workshops and Programs

University of Minnesota - Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort Program
Florida International University - Developing/Revising Courses for "Global Learning" Designation

Association Resources

The Association of American Colleges and Univesity's (AAC&U) General Education for a Global Century program is a curriculum and faculty development project of the Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility Initiative and the Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative. Faculty Learning Communities are an important feature of the Global Century program. They are communities of practice established in and across 32 institutions, involving faculty in various disciplines. Faculty are encouraged to share and work across disciplines to develop curriculum and improve teaching. AAC&U facilitates and coordinates the faculty interactions within and across campuses. In addition, program participants are engaged in ongoing activities at AAC&U and have access to virtual support.  

NAFSA: The Association of International Educators sponsors 11 "professional networks" focusing on various areas of international education, one of which is the "Internationalizing Teaching, Learning, and the Curriculum Network." Members have access to on-line resources and discussion forums.


Provide grants. Faculty in general are resourceful; providing grants specifically for course internationalization allows them to figure it out on their own, and tap their own networks and resources. As with all internationalization grants, faculty should be held accountable for the results, but the flexibility to explore different approaches may result in discipline-specific good practices that can be shared with departmental colleagues. Typically (e.g. at the institutions in the "Models from the Field" section below), such grants range from $1,500 to $3,500.

The University of North Carolina's World View program offers grants to North Carolina community college faculty to develop international modules for their courses. To date, over 50 grants of up to $750 have been awarded.

Designate a departmental point person. Building on the idea of working with "faculty champions" covered in Engaging Faculty in Internationalization, Part 1, it can be useful to identify a faculty member in each school or department who has successfully incorporated international elements into course content (perhaps someone who has completed a professional development program or received a grant in this area), and charge her or him with spearheading efforts and assisting other faculty in the department. Convening the designated point-people regularly to share ideas and strategies can help further disseminate good practices and lessons learned across fields.

Seek guidance from disciplinary associations. As more and more institutions have designated internationalization as a priority, faculty disciplinary associations have begun to focus on it as well, and can be a good source for field-specific approaches and resources. And because these associations heavily influence trends and practices in their respective fields, they can be an important voice in emphasizing the importance of internationalization to their member faculty.

The Association of American Geographers's Center for Global Geography Education has developed internationalized modules for faculty to incorporate into their courses, and provides workshops to train faculty on how to use the modules and produce new case studies. 

ACE's Where Faculty Live: Internationalizing the Disciplines Project

In 2006, ACE joined with four disciplinary associations to articulate global learning outcomes for their fields and begin to develop plans of action to achieve them in individual departments.

In their report, the associations did not suggest creating new courses or requirements; rather, they proposed infusing international, comparative, and cross-cultural perspectives into existing courses. Specific recommendations included:

  • Create a climate in which internationalization is the norm. Develop a clear and focused institutional strategy that is broad enough for schools and departments to develop their own strategies and approaches. 
  • General education and cross disciplinary courses are good places to start for curriculum development.  First year seminars and capstones are also a good place to start because the courses are often problem-based and are not primarily concerned with covering a certain body of subject matter. 


A Troubling Trend: ACE's Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses 2012 study found that despite the priority many institutions are placing on internationalization, the percentage that offer faculty workshops on internationalizing the curriculum has decreased since 2006.




Challenge #8: Integrating International Students

While curriculum is critical, there are pedagogical challenges as well. For example, some faculty don't know how best to support and integrate international students in the classroom, especially those with limited English.

Hone in on the most critical issues – and be specific. Offering professional development opportunities that target the specific issues that faculty struggle with most in this area can maximize efficiency and ensure faculty really get what they need for their time. Key issues are likely to vary by campus – a survey can be an effective way to determine which topics are most pressing.

Getting Specific: Examples of Topics and Programs for Working with International Students
  • Merrimack College, a participant in ACE's Internationalization Laboratory program, is planning a summer faculty workshop that will focus on writing course syllabi that are clear and understandable for international students.
  • Oregon State University's Center for Writing and Learning sponsored the production of a video called Writing Across Borders which is intended to "help faculty, writing assistants, and other professionals work more productively with international students in writing environments."
  • The University of Iowa's business school recently offered a workshop for faculty and staff to learn how to pronounce Chinese students' names. The program was profiled in an article in Inside Higher Ed, which includes good practices for other institutions that wish to replicate the program.
  • Also profiled in an Inside Higher Ed article were Case Western Reserve University's faculty training programs for working with Chinese students, the purpose of which is to "help professors better serve international students and integrate them into the classroom."
  • The University of Dayton's Learning Teaching Center offers a variety of workshops through its Teaching a Global Student Community (TAGS) program. Topics include "Responding to Written Work of Non-Native English Speakers," "Middle Eastern Culture," and "Plagiarism and the International Student in the University Classroom."

But don't forget the big picture. Both depth and breadth are important. While professional development workshops that help faculty immediately deal with key classroom issues can have a notable impact, it is also important to offer opportunities for faculty to engage in discussions of the broader cultural differences that underlie these issues, and develop skills for managing these differences effectively. Communications and area studies departments can be a good source of experts qualified to lead training in this area.

Building an Interculturally Competent Faculty
Darla K. Deardorff, Executive Director, Association of International Education Administrators
Excerpted from an article first published in the IIE Networker, Spring 2012

Given the integral involvement of faculty in shaping the student experience, interculturally competent professors and instructors are in an excellent position to help students develop their own competence in this realm and facilitate students' global preparedness.

Interculturally competent faculty are those who:

  • Understand the complexity of intercultural competence (ICC)
  • Design their courses to go beyond knowledge transmission and address intercultural learning as an outcome
  • Can successfully teach students from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • Are well prepared to provide feedback to students in their intercultural journeys

Examples of events and activities faculty may participate in to build intercultural competence include:

  • University-initiated conferences, workshops and symposia
  • National and international conferences at which ICC is addressed
  • Special ICC-focused faculty professional development opportunities

In designing content for such activities, it is important to meet faculty where they are in terms of their backgrounds, learning styles, and expectations. Identifying existing ICC allies and advocates, engaging faculty through informal conversations or meetings to ascertain needs, challenges, and interest in intercultural competence can be effective first steps in building a campus-wide ICC community.

Additional resources:

Consider a credential
. As discussed in the previous installment of Internationalization in Action, "countable" accomplishments can bring attention to international engagement in the tenure and promotion process. An official certificate or other credential awarded for completing professional development programs can serve a similar purpose, and provides an incentive for faculty to complete a range of programs that address both the breadth and depth issues noted previously. And faculty who achieve such a credential are natural candidates to lead internationalization efforts in their departments.

Faculty Certificate and Credential Programs

Community College of Baltimore County - Global Citizenship Certificate
University of Maryland - Global Certificate Program
University of Iowa - Global Certificate Program
University of Georgia - Global Certificate Program 


Challenge #9: Where Do We Start?

All of this sounds great, but it's a lot to do – where do we start?

Policies, grants, professional development workshops – all of these are important as institutions advance their internationalization agendas and seek to effectively engage faculty in the process. But, as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day – and it's important to prioritize initiatives, and make sure they are done well and are sustainable over time. For many institutions, it makes sense to start with a focus on the curriculum, and on-campus professional development opportunities that will help faculty internationalize the work that goes on the classroom and deliver international competence to the greatest possible number of students.

Whatever initiatives are undertaken first, building awareness among faculty of the need for internationalization and their engagement is critical. New faculty orientation programs are an opportunity to emphasize this right when faculty arrive on campus,  and engaging the faculty senate to help promote initiatives underscores their legitimacy and can help build participation and buy-in among faculty members. An all-faculty survey is an excellent way to both assess critical needs and determine priorities, and bring attention to internationalization efforts.

Paul McVeigh, Associate Vice President for Global Studies and Programs, at Northern Virginia Community College incorporates a 1-hour presentation and discussion of international issues, and opportunities for faculty engagement into each year's new faculty orientation program. 

Similarly, the University of Florida's new faculty orientation program includes a presentation about the role of faculty in internationalizing the campus. The presentation, delivered by the Dean of the International Center, offers tools and resources available to new faculty and underscores the institution's goals for internationalization as well as the International Center's mission.

Surveying Faculty: Gathering Information and Gaining Buy-in

A number of participants in ACE's Internationalization Laboratory program have conducted faculty surveys that help to benchmark current practices, spur initial conversations, publicize the internationalization process, and garner buy-in from key stakeholders. 

The survey instruments vary by institution but are generally designed to assess faculty interest in internationalization and the extent to which international perspectives have been integrated into current courses and curricula, as well as to collect information about faculty international activities.

Specific goals for the survey process may include:

  • Publicize and get buy-in from faculty for the internationalization process
  • Find out the repository of skills and abilities faculty currently  have
  • Find out the barriers to faculty internationalization
  • Find out how to engage faculty more effectively

A key aspect of conducting a successful survey is having a strategy to mitigate characteristically low response rates, faculty resistance to internationalization and survey fatigue. To address these difficulties, some institutions have abandoned electronic surveys and instead opted for distributing hard copies of surveys at departmental meetings. Face-to-face interaction with faculty and the stamp of approval from senior leadership can be effective tools. Success stories include:

The University of Minnesota-Duluth set an ambitious goal of collecting survey responses from 464 faculty in 38 departments. They approached this challenge by enlisting the help of the dean of each school to identify a faculty member willing to serve as a coordinator. The faculty volunteer was named the "Faculty Liaison" and was responsible for bringing hard copies of the survey to be completed by faculty at department meetings, helping coordinate focus groups, and serving as a champion of the internationalization process.

At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, institutional leaders endorsed and underscored the importance of their faculty survey. The survey was endorsed by deans who visited nearly two-thirds of all academic departments on campus. Department chairs also opened their departmental sessions to discussions about how each discipline might expand its internationalization efforts.

"Faculty resistance is best met with the personal touch: go to their departments, their offices; meet them on their own turf. The time you dedicate to this will pay off in more positive results than any other approach you could take." -  Sharon Steadman, Co-Chair International Leadership Team, SUNY College at Cortland (ACE Internationalization Laboratory participant)


Faculty Internationalization Surveys and Reports
Kennesaw State University
Portland State University
Central Connecticut State University
New Mexico State University

Sneak Preview:

Building upon many of the issues covered here, the Fall 2013 installment of Internationalization in Action will take a closer look at internationalization of the curriculum, including general education requirements, student learning outcomes, and the role of foreign language. Stay tuned!