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Language educators from around the world come to IU to discuss internationalizing their programs

May 24, 2017
Tree covered with Nazar amulets
Nazar amulets, which are meant to ward off bad luck, cover a tree in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. IU is home to the nation’s only Turkish Flagship Program.

Indiana University’s leadership as a hub for student international experience and language immersion is on full display as it hosts concurrent meetings with academic leaders and practitioners from around the world.

Participants arrived Sunday from across the country and as far away as Brazil and China for The Language Flagship annual meeting that ended Tuesday at IU Bloomington. Meanwhile, the seventh annual Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization concludes today.

The Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization is hosted yearly by the Center for the Study of Global Change, part of the IU School of Global and International Studies. The center, along with IU Flagship Programs in Arabic, Chinese and Turkish, simultaneously hosted the Language Flagship meetings.

“That we are simultaneously hosting these two high-profile and important events is a testament to the Global Center’s and Indiana University’s sustained leadership in the field of international education,” said Hilary Kahn, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change and assistant dean for international education and global initiatives at the School of Global and International Studies.

The Language Flagships hold a national meeting at a different host campus each year to provide intensive workshops on a variety of matters within language study and teaching. The Language Flagship programs are an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the U.S. Department of Defense, intended to provide an experience for students from all schools and disciplines to acquire language skills and certification to prepare for global careers.

Languages selected for flagship programs are ones particularly critical to national competitiveness and security.

Mike Nugent, director of the Defense Language and National Security Education office, attended the annual Language Flagship meeting so he can personally hear from faculty and conduct meetings with academic leadership. He welcomed the participants and commended their hard work toward a common goal.

Mike Nugent speaks at a podium
Mike Nugent

That goal is to create a strong pool of proficient global professionals who will serve the nation through their work in the public and private sectors and the U.S. government. Over the course of three days, about 180 Language Flagship participants, who included deans and provosts from flagship institutions, delved into a range of topics for meetings. They touched on areas such as summer immersion programs and recruitment issues.

The meeting rotates among institutions, but the Language Flagship leadership said that coming to IU, which has the most flagship programs of any U.S. university, was particularly meaningful.

“The three flagship programs form the backbone of a pretty extensive language program in the School of Global and International Studies,” said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. “We offer more than 70 languages on the Bloomington campus. I try to describe some of them to colleagues at other institutions as being like seed corn, since we are in Indiana. You don’t want to lose your seed corn.”

An attendee at both conferences commented that he was impressed that IU’s emphasis is not only international study but on internationalizing the whole university.

The work of comprehensively internationalizing higher education is the focus of the Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization event, which has become so popular that there was a waiting list for this year’s conference before last year’s ended. 

Fifty-nine faculty and administrators from across the country and some from abroad attended to examine ways to integrate global perspectives into teaching and learning. Like at IU, many institutions want to strategically ”internationalize” by thinking holistically across campuses and ultimately enhancing opportunities for global learning, research and service across all disciplines and for all students – on campus or off.

With Salman Alani standing behind her, student Madison O'Day speaks from a podium.
Madison O’Day, an IU student enrolled in the Arabic Flagship Program, told conference attendees about how the experience has shaped her education and her future plans.

The Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization and Language Flagship meetings combined forces for part of their concurrent sessions. Nugent delivered a Sunday night keynote to institute participants, emphasizing the importance of language as a part of internationalizing curriculum at all types of institutions. On Monday, institute panelists joined with flagship partners to talk about internationalization and the role of languages during a panel discussion.

Throughout the discussions at both meetings, student experiences were front and center. Arabic Flagship student Madison O’Day, Chinese Flagship student Austin Babb and Turkish Flagship student Daniel Metz all gave a glimpse of how the experience is shaping their plans.

For O’Day, who is from Columbus, Indiana, her plans include leaving soon for Morocco, where she’ll work in a program through the American Councils for International Education. She said global progress toward peace requires understanding, something she said her IU Flagship experience has provided.

“I recognize, and I’m sure most of you recognize language as a portal to different cultures,” O’Day said. “And my work to strengthen my Arabic capacity has given me insight into understanding and contextualizing the nature of the Middle East, the region I aim to work with most closely in my future career.”

Chuck Carney is director of communications and marketing at the IU School of Global and International Studies.


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