U college works on world view

by Michelle Kibiger

The College of Education and Human Development is one of several University colleges moving toward a more international curriculum.
“Knowledge is now public property everyplace,” said Dr. Josef Mestenhauser, professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration. “People will be handicapped if they don’t have the international perspective.”
International curricula include discussion of issues that have global political, social, or cultural impact and often incorporate the perspectives of international students. The University’s Institute of International Studies agreed Monday to publish a paper about giving classes a more international focus. The paper was written last spring by faculty and graduate students who participated in a seminar taught by Mestenhauser.
Mestenhauser conducted the seminar to explore how institutions might incorporate global perspectives into program curricula. The class found that many disciplines are already giving classes an international flavor. A global focus will not replace anything, Mestenhauser said, but will add more depth to the learning process.
The students and faculty also said the University can’t make every class international, but key courses in each department will add the appropriate emphasis.
Mestenhauser said bringing an international perspective to teaching is a growing movement worldwide.
“This is not just a fad here that we’re developing,” Mestenhauser said. “Universities are emerging transnational organizations.”
Another way the college is trying to add an international emphasis to the curricula is through 14 new one- and two-credit classes, which will be offered during the 1996-97 school year. Mestenhauser said the classes are open to nearly all University students and are geared toward students whose academic disciplines won’t allow them to take international classes.
Now is a perfect time to develop strategies for integrating international issues into programs because the University is completely restructuring classes for the upcoming conversion to semesters, Mestenhauser said.
Brenda Ellingboe, a teaching assistant in Mestenhauser’s program, said she will speak to several colleges’ curriculum revision committees in the fall about a master’s thesis she just completed. In her thesis, Ellingboe discussed how five University colleges are working to internationalize programs and what barriers to internationalization exist.
The committees are developing curriculum revisions for each college within the University in order to deal with the upcoming semester conversion.
Not everyone at the University welcomes the idea of adding international perspectives to their classes.
Ellingboe’s study concluded that the University has “minimal interest and awareness with major obstacles (to internationalization),” because of the lack of encouragement from University administrators.
International education is not one of the top-six priorities of University 2000, President Nils Hasselmo’s plan to move the University toward the 21st century, Ellingboe said. Her study stated this lack of support may be slowing colleges’ move toward internationalization.
In the course of her study, Ellingboe interviewed 42 University staff members, including faculty, administrators, deans, associate deans and professional and administrative staff members. Many people are ready to integrate the global perspective, but others are very resistant, she said.