Mason Receives Award for Internationalization Efforts

Posted: February 3, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

George Mason University is the recipient of the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) fifth annual Andrew Heiskell Award for its work to internationalize the campus. As part of this award, Mason will be featured by the IIE Network, IIE’s membership association, as a “best practice” in international education.

The Heiskell award will be presented as part of a daylong seminar on “Best Practices in Internationalizing the Campus” on March 31 in New York City. The award recognizes efforts initiated by Provost Peter Stearns beginning in 2000 when he created an advisory committee on global research and education and appointed an associate provost for global education.

As a result of Stearns’ appointments and direction, a wide range of programs designed to internationalize Mason have either been started or enhanced over the past six years.

These accomplishments fall into four major categories: global initiatives and support; internationalizing the curriculum; international partnerships; and services and support for international students.

  • Mason’s achievements for global initiatives and support include the creation of a Center for Global Studies; an annual lecture and assembly of Mason faculty with international interests; International Education Week; the Center for History and New Media’s World History Matters web site; and the hiring of a director of China initiatives, an international grant writer and a global programs coordinator.
  • Efforts regarding the internationalization of the curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students include creating a new general educational requirement in “Global Understanding”; successfully receiving federal grants to improve international education in foreign languages, Central Asian studies and world literature; creating a global affairs major; offering interdisciplinary minors so that students are able to add an international component to their major; and expanding study-abroad and intern-abroad opportunities.
  • Mason has also established several international partnerships, perhaps most prominently the new campus in the United Arab Emirates, which will open in fall 2006. The university also established an English Language Institute in Jakarta in 2004; began to offer through the School of Public Policy in 2005 a graduate-level program in organizational learning and change management in India; and participated in the U.S.-China 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program, which brings American and Chinese universities together to offer dual degrees to Chinese undergraduate students who otherwise would not have access to education in the United States.
  • The final category, services and support for international students, revolves around the work of the Office of International Programs and Services, which provides leadership in fostering global awareness and cross-cultural understanding. This office offers programs as part of Mason’s annual International Week; manages and coordinates immigration, employment and taxation services for students, faculty and staff; and supports Mason’s international population.

The Heiskell Award comes only months after Mason was named the “most diverse” university in the nation by the Princeton Review. International students represent approximately six percent of the student population.

IIE, based in New York City, administers more than 250 international educational exchange and development training programs around the world, including the Fulbright Program, the Humphrey mid-career fellowships and the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program. It has more than 850 member institutions in 35 countries.

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