IIE Heiskell Award honors FIU Global Learning Initiative

By Hilary Landorf
Director, Office of Global Learning Initiatives

Stephanie Doscher, Gitta-Rausch Montotto, and Hilary Landorf (left to right) accept the IIE Heiskell Award for Internationalizing the Campus from the IIE's Allan Goodman. Image courtesy of the Institute of International Education.

Stephanie Doscher, Gitta Rausch-Montoto, and Hilary Landorf (left to right) accept the IIE Heiskell Award for Internationalizing the Campus from the IIE’s Allan Goodman (far right). Image courtesy of the Institute of International Education.

Since its inception in 2007, Global Learning for Global Citizenship has been a true collaborative effort, involving hundreds of faculty, staff, administrators, students, and community members – this award is for us all, including our founders.

I want to take you back to 1972, to a document written by our visionary first president, Charles Perry, for the Board of Trustees of FIU. This document was written 1,000 days into Perry’s presidency, which he began when he first stepped onto an abandoned airfield in Miami that was to become FIU.

Today FIU is the 4th largest university in the U.S. Like the Institute for International Education, one of the founding goals of FIU was “greater international understanding.” In this document, President Perry explains FIU’s roadmap for this goal.

Perry writes, “Because of the importance of the international commitment to all of us, I want to tell you the four steps being taken to make this an international university:

  1. Each of the units has set goals for the recruitment of key faculty who are internationally oriented.
  2. The units are committed to internationalizing their curriculum. (Remember that he was writing this in 1972)
  3. The Division of University Services is planning an annual international conference and cultural series.
  4. Student exchange programs will be encouraged to the extent that these are financially feasible.”[1]

And the next part of the document is even more remarkable:

Perry continues, “But to internationalize a publicly supported university involves more than all this: it involves an attitude, a tone, a feeling, an understanding and a willingness to look at education beyond the traditional borders of the United States or Western Europe. And it involves a desire to be truly concerned about the problems of the world.”

At FIU, we have always been mindful of our founding mission, and in Global Learning for Global Citizenship, we are proud of our work in helping to realize President Perry’s vision.

So what is Global Learning for Global Citizenship? It is over 160 courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum and over 250 activities in which our diverse students collaboratively identify, analyze, and address problems that transcend borders. We firmly believe that global learning is for all – that problems can only be solved with the input of a variety of perspectives from a diverse set of people working together. This belief is encapsulated in our three student learning outcomes: global awareness, global perspective, and global engagement.

The impact of our initiative, launched in 2010, extends from our university, to our local communities, to networks throughout the world. Among our many student clubs that have taken on the mantle of global learning is our Haitian Student Organization. This past summer, they themselves created and carried out a mentorship program that connected middle school students with their Haitian and African roots.

Faculty use active global learning strategies to give their students the best opportunities to grapple with real-world issues. In the interdisciplinary course Challenges in Healthcare, students from different majors work in teams to develop concrete actions to increase the well-being of residents in Miami’s underserved neighborhoods.

Our global learning efforts stretch across the globe. FIU is the lead partner in a massive project that is successfully increasing sustainable access to safe water and improving hygiene throughout West Africa.

These are examples of how members of our community are mastering global learning, and support the importance and impact of our initiative.

As I have said, many people at FIU have been involved in this initiative. FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg has championed and supported Global Learning for Global Citizenship from day one. Stephanie Doscher from the Office of Global Learning Initiatives has been with me every step of the way as we have shepherded the initiative in its perpetual growth throughout these past nine years. Gitta Montoto from the Office of Faculty and Global Affairs suggested that FIU apply for this award, rallied us, and has given us constant support.

Finally, I want to thank President Allan Goodman and the International Institute for Education (IIE) for creating the Andrew Heiskell awards.

As we all know, it is difficult to build and then to maintain support for internationalization efforts. Receiving an award like this from an agency as well-known and prestigious as IIE not only validates our efforts, but gives all of our institutions a reason to celebrate, and even more, reinvigorates our initiatives.

I can say for certain that this is what has happened at FIU. Since the announcement of the award went public, more students have been coming to our office to inquire about our global learning programs and activities, more faculty have signed up for our professional development workshops, and notably, more chairs and deans have been encouraging their faculty to get involved in global learning.

And for the administration – to see the headline, FIU’s global focus receives national recognition on the Florida University System’s Board of Governors website is a point of real pride – so again, thank you IIE, from all of us at FIU, including our founder and visionary, our late President Charles Perry.

Editor’s Note: Hilary Landorf delivered this acceptance speech at the University of California Davis, where IIE presented the 2016 Heiskell awards. FIU was co-winner of the Internationalizing the Campus category.

[1] Perry, C.E. (July 6, 1972). “The First Thousand Days.” Speech presented to the Florida State Board of Regents. Miami: Florida International University.

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