Rollins Raises the Profile of Internationalization

September 14, 2009

Rollins’ unprecedented efforts to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership have received national accolades. The College achieved recognition as a leading institution for the internationalization of its faculty in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  And, according to the Institute of International Education, Rollins ranks among the top 25 colleges and universities for its study-abroad program. 

For more than a decade, Rollins College has been raising the profile of internationalization. In 2000-01, the “Spanish for the Professors” course turned Rollins’ teachers into students with weekly on-campus classes and a capstone experience in Oviedo, Spain, that put the language and cultural lessons to the test. Learning Centers in Shanghai and Costa Rica have facilitated many faculty and student international activities over the years. In 2005, Rollins embarked on an unparalleled effort to internationalize its faculty — an effort that President Lewis M. Duncan, now in his sixth year, believes is core to providing a global education for students. Professors at Rollins are given opportunities to travel all over the world to experience other cultures. The President’s Internationalization Initiative strives to enable every faculty member to have an international experience at least once every three years.

Rachel Newcomb 
Assistant Professor of Anthropology Rachel
Newcomb led Morocco for the Professors, January 2007.

“To truly provide a global education for students, you must first internationalize the faculty,” said President Duncan. “Rollins is boldly at the forefront of bringing the outside world into the classroom. This helps answer the question that students always ask … ‘How am I going to use this in the real world?’”
As the Initiative enters its fifth year, nearly 75 percent of eligible faculty and teaching staff have used the grants to conduct individual research projects or to travel internationally with faculty-led groups to destinations that take participants out of their “comfort zone.”  Destinations have included Africa, Asia and South America, and, in 2009-10, Antarctica. 
“Unless there’s a scholarly reason to travel to Western Europe, we’re emphasizing international travel that enables us to become better teachers for the 21st century, not the 18th,” said Duncan.
Many faculty report “transformative” effects on their research and their lives. Those lessons in the world’s classroom are brought home in many ways when professors across different disciplines collaborate together on projects or new courses to “connect the dots” for students, showing, for example, how physicists, artists and musicians can work together to solve problems. Or through the many and varied community service projects benefiting residents in communities around the world or in our very own Central Florida neighborhoods.
“You can’t understand yourself as an American unless you look at America from the perspective of another culture,” said Rollins’ McKean Professor of Philosophy Hoyt Edge, who has led field studies to Indonesia and Australia. “You don’t know yourself until you have that mirror and begin to understand your own assumptions and your own context in the world. It gives you a perspective you can’t get any other way.”
The most recent international experience — a 15-day trip to China this summer — was designed to help faculty members have a cross-disciplinary discourse on China, a rapidly rising power in the 21st century. Structured to enhance participants’ teaching, scholarship and international perspectives, the group visited Shanghai, Urumuqi, Turpan, Jiayu Fort, Xi’an and Beijing.


Rollins faculty from anthropology, art, athletics,
economics, history, international business, mathematics,
psychology and political science  participated in a 15-day
trip to China this summer

As guests at Shanghai University and East China University of Science and Technology, which have exchange partnerships with Rollins, the faculty joined in discussions with Chinese faculty on a variety of topics. Chinese students also took part in group conversations with Rollins faculty.

The China Center at Rollins College

Here at home, The China Center at Rollins College is engaged in teaching, research and outreach programs that have contributed to Rollins’ internationalization efforts in China and beyond. Founded in 2003, the China Center was established by a group of faculty members with an interest in promoting Chinese culture. Today, the China Center on campus is part of a select network of organizations that promote cross-cultural learning.

Through the China Center, professors have taken undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni to China. In the summer of 2007, Ilan Alon, Cornell Professor of International Business and executive director of Rollins China Center, took a group of Saturday MBA students to Hong Kong. Thomas Lairson, Gelbman Professor of International Business and professor of political science, accompanied a group of undergraduate students from Rollins to Shanghai for the fall 2008 semester. In 2008, the first cohort of students finished three years of Chinese language education taught by Li Wei, lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

“We live in a global society and operate in a global economy,” Alon said. “We cannot teach business—or any discipline—in isolation from the world in which we live. Asia is taking center stage in world globalization and China is a force to educate people about the changing landscape of the world.”

The China Center has hosted scholars from Harvard University, University of Southern California, Copenhagen Business School, Renmin University, East China University for Science and Technology, and Zhejian  University. In 2007, The China Center  launched an inaugural international conference with more than 70 people attending, presenting and interacting about the role of   China   in the 21st century.  In October 2009, Rollins will host the American Association for Chinese Studies 51st Annual Conference, where more than 100 scholars from China and around the world will come together to discuss a variety of topics including “Social Change in China,” “China’s Rise and its Implications” and much more.

Student Study Abroad Increases

In fall 2009, 20 Rollins students lived with host families in Sydney, Australia, and studied at the University of Sydney. Field studies in the Outback and educational excursions abound. Pictured in July, the group visited the Royal Botanic Gardens close to Sydney's landmark Opera House.


Twenty Rollins students are currently living with
host families in Sydney, Australia, and studying
during the fall term at the University of Sydney. Field
studies in the Outback and educational excursions
abound. Pictured above in July, the group visits the Royal
Botanic Gardens close to Sydney's landmark Opera House.

The emphasis on internationalization has also resulted in a 53 percent increase in the number of students who study abroad, according to Rollins’ Director of International Programs Jennifer Campbell.

With 63 percent of its students having an international experience before graduation, Rollins ranks among the top 25 colleges and universities in its category, according to the Institute of International Education. More than 200 Rollins students — the largest group ever in the College’s history — are “spanning the globe” throughout summer and fall 2009. The students are traveling to 15 countries, from Australia to Ecuador to Spain to the United Kingdom, and some students even spent a semester at sea. Rollins has affiliate programs around the world — including programs in London, England; Sydney, Australia; Madrid, Spain; and beginning in 2009-10, Kansai Gaidai, Japan — and also offers field-study opportunities as well as study-abroad opportunities through other universities.  Gain student insights as four International R-Journalists study abroad in Australia, France, Japan and Jordan.




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