Professor promotes cultural studies

by Nichol Nelson

Anthropology professor Marion Lundy-Dobbert knows how difficult it can be to step beyond one’s cultural boundaries and experience the world.
Lundy-Dobbert recently spent nine months in France happily imbibing French culture until the day she got sick. Physically ill, she found herself more intolerant of cultural norms that differed from American ways.
Frustration arose as she found herself fighting for sidewalk space and service at fruit markets, two aspects of French culture that she had successfully adapted to before she fell ill.
While it was challenging, the experience taught her the importance of cultural perspective. Lundy-Dobbert used this experience to write a chapter in the book, “Reforming the Education Curriculum: Internationalizing the Campus,” a compilation of papers written by University faculty members about globalizing higher education.
The book, edited by education professor Josef Mestenhauser and graduate student Brenda Ellingboe, grew out of a graduate seminar focusing on ways to internationalize the University. Various professors were asked to write and present papers on the topic, which were later compiled into the book.
Profits from book sales will go to the College of Education and Human Development and the Institute of International Studies and Programs.
The authors of the book were at East Bank bookstore in Williamson Hall on Wednesday to discuss the book and the concept of internationalizing higher education. Ellingboe said the book is a wake-up call to educators and urged administrators to take an active role.
“College deans’ offices need to be very involved with this because their offices set the agenda,” Ellingboe said.
Mestenhauser was skeptical of the current international requirements at the University. He said the two mandatory multicultural classes are simply not enough to educate students about global issues.
“The assumption many hold is that with technical competence, you can go anywhere,” Mestenhauser said. “That’s not true.”
Ellingboe said the conversion to semesters provides an excellent opportunity for faculty members to revise their curriculum and add more international material. She said goals include expanding the language programs and encouraging more students to study abroad. Currently, only 800 University students study abroad each year.
“We think it’s more effective for faculty to go abroad and spread their knowledge through the curriculum,” Ellingboe said.
Gayla Marty of the Institute of International Studies and Programs said University students have many opportunities to expand their global perspectives. The institute oversees programs that send students and faculty around the world.
Chip Peterson, assistant director of the Global Campus, said studying abroad is an important way to internationalize.
“(Studying abroad) gives you an ability to function in conditions of ambiguity,” Peterson said.
The book’s authors will be signing books and discussing internationalizing higher education from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. today at the St. Paul bookstore.