International educators gathered this weekend to celebrate the 20-year mark of the master’s degree program for international development and education.
On Friday an academic symposium brought former comparative and international development education graduate students to the University to discuss the work they’ve done for international education. Current students discussed the programs they are working on through the comparative and international development education program and University panelists discussed internationalization at the University.
The comparative and international development education program began in the 1970s after students requested a graduate and doctorate program that would specifically focus on international education.
The weekend also celebrated the hiring of the first two women who will join the faculty, said program professor John Cogan.
The hiring of the two women is important for the program to increase diversity and bring in new ideas, he said.
Cogan was one of the original board members who worked to create the program and said this weekend’s event was especially important to “connect students with alumni.”
By networking the two groups, it opens communication, and the conference is about telling students where the future of international education will take them, he said.
The past two University presidents stressed the importance of the comparative and international development education program by investing in global and international programs that focused on researching education on all levels around the world, Cogan said.
If the University is going to be a global competitor, it is essential to have a continuous focus on international education, he said.
Co-organizer Carrie Zastrow said the event was also an opportunity to focus on some of the “burning issues in the (international education) field.”
Zastrow said building a curriculum to address problems in other parts of the world is essential for a program such as this.
The future of international education, relationships between people and cultures, and the expansion of intercultural competence are some of the key issues the field is focusing on, she said.
“Our field is a mind-set rather than a specific field,” she said. “We are in the futurist’s field.”
Comparative and international development education graduate Soaring Hawk said the program was the perfect fit for him when he began researching his graduate degree options.
The program allows him to examine multicultural issues that are important to him, he said. One of the problems that concerns Hawk, he said, is in regard to the 50 percent success rate for Mexican students in college.
Comparative and international development education professor Michael Paige said many people do not understand what the comparative and international development education program studies.
“Our studies are about visualization,” Paige said, “to organize systems for a world of change.”
He said the program prepares students to be educators on a global level in two ways.
Many of the comparative and international development education graduates work in developmental areas to improve international education, or they go on to work in international student offices or in study abroad offices, he said.
Comparative and international development education student Jayson Richardson said the department provides a positive environment because the faculty and staff members are very supportive of their students.
He said the comparative and international development education staff members are different from other departments at the college because each one works as a “personal advocate” for his or her students.
Yuki Watabe is a student in the program who received her master’s in comparative and international development education and now is working on her doctorate.
After finishing school at New York University, she was nervous about going into the work force because it was difficult for her to find her place, she said, so she decided to go back to school to get her comparative and international development education graduate degree.
“Comparative and international development education was the beginning of my self-confidence,” she said.
People always ask why a person would do this program, she said, and the answer is that internationalization is important.