On August 28, more than 85 Auburn University faculty, staff and students gathered online to discuss internationalization, how to integrate tactics into teaching and the curriculum and how to engage in opportunities domestically and abroad that enhance cultural competency. The "Passport to the World: Best Practices in Internationalization” symposium, hosted by the Global Teaching Academy in the Office of International Programs, offered nine sessions throughout the morning that were geared toward inspiring attendees to start, nurture and increase their international awareness and strategies. The symposium is just one of several events and initiatives that exemplify Auburn’s commitment to further internationalize the institution.
For faculty and staff, the symposium offered a unique learning opportunity to openly discuss internationalization strategies with fellow Auburn colleagues who have found much success in their approaches. Specifically, sessions reviewed topics such as academic partnerships, international recruiting, faculty international scholarships, and integrating cultural strategies in the classroom and curriculum. Roughly 80 percent of Auburn students do not study abroad, so it is the responsibility of faculty and staff to cultivate cultural opportunities for students on campus. In his symposium closing remarks, Andrew Gillespie, assistant provost for international programs, encouraged Auburn educators to utilize the strategies shared at the symposium to reach that 80 percent.
"It is imperative that faculty, staff, students and the community at large have an understanding of the world around them,” said Daniel Butler, assistant dean for international programs in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. "This symposium offered practical sessions to help faculty with internationalizing classes and engaging internationally focused research, and assisted students on their internationalization journey."
During the sessions, students engaged in discussions about the value of the international experience, including the vast study abroad opportunities offered through Auburn Abroad, and participated in conversations with a panel of students who themselves have had valuable international interactions on and off campus. The discussions reinforced the importance of possessing cultural awareness and understanding and engaging in global opportunities that will set students apart and ultimately benefit their future careers. According to the Educational Testing Service, out of more than 2,700 human resource executives 15 percent reported a shortage in applicants demonstrating the ability to work well with diverse coworkers and customers.
"Intercultural awareness is paramount to engage and work well with others no matter the location or industry,” said Giovanna Summerfield, professor and associate dean for educational affairs in the College of Liberal Arts. "It’s a skillset that employers often have trouble finding in their candidates. Nevertheless, global and cultural competence, respect and appreciation is not only vital in the career field, but in everyday life. Our students must be equipped with this knowledge in order to grow professionally and personally."
The Auburn Creed itself states "this is a practical world" and education provides "the knowledge to work wisely." There is nothing more practical than learning about your neighbors near and far through educational opportunities that foster direct international connectivity and enhance cultural awareness. The creed also highlights our belief as the Auburn Family in "the human touch, which cultivates sympathy.” While COVID-19 has temporarily limited the ability to physically interact, it has highlighted the global interconnectedness of all people and all disciplines as well as the need for continued and enhanced education on international issues.
As the state’s land-grant university, Auburn is committed to providing the resources for students to acquire an education that prepares them to be global citizens, for faculty to facilitate international scholarship and collaborate with international peers and for all personnel to support Alabama’s success by crossing natural and national boundaries to address international matters. The symposium further strengthened this commitment and provided attendees with a deeper understanding of global issues and their impact on society.
A special thank you to the Auburn faculty and staff who helped plan and execute the symposium, and to the members of the Auburn Family and greater community who participated in the event.
(Written by Kalani Long)