Voices and Viewpoints

Globalizing Campuses at Community Colleges and MSIs: Illinois Opens Up the Conversation in a New Program

by Zsuzsánna Magdó with Donna C. Tonini / Sep 27, 2016

Community colleges and minority serving institutions (MSIs) are crucial partners in the comprehensive internationalization of K-16 education. These institutions provide instruction for nearly half of undergraduates in the country, with community colleges enrolling over 44 percent of college-going African Americans and 56 percent of Hispanic students (Ma & Baum, 2016, p.5), with MSIs enrolling more than 58 percent of minority students (Li, 2007, p. vi). Yet, as the recently released Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks for Higher and Tertiary Education remind, comprehensive internationalization necessitates the adoption of sustainable models, the improvement of institutional performance, and campus-wide dedication to the holistic development of globally competent students.

This July the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois opened doors for faculty and international education leaders from ten community colleges and two four-year minority-serving institutions (MSIs) from New Jersey to California. The Fellows who participated in the inaugural Global and Area Studies Summer Research Lab met colleagues, mined resources, and explored initiatives on the Champaign-Urbana campus. Their goal? To create sustainable pathways to global learning for their students through new courses and programs. As community colleges and MSIs have been impacted by the global economy and increasing flows of information technology and culture, they have adapted their institutional behavior and campus culture, often more by necessity than by choice (Levin, 2002). In addition, the gradual shift in the U.S. population from a white majority to a minority majority has been echoed across college campuses, where the percentage of college students who are minority has been increasing (Snyder & Dillow, 2015, p. 378), alongside a surge in enrollment from international students (IIE, 2015). These enrollment trends have remade college campuses into more culturally plural institutions, heightening the importance of expanding cultural literacy, worldviews and global knowledge for students and faculty alike. The Global and Area Studies Summer Research Lab Fellows, acknowledging the increasing engagement with other cultures and the growing impact of global forces, recognized the importance of embedding global content in courses, curricula and programs to assist in the internationalization efforts of their campuses. According to one Fellow, “watching new films and gathering potential readings for a new class amounted to a mini-graduate course.” As another related, “what I found really beneficial was meeting different faculty from a variety of disciplines, discussing my topic, and exploring connections.”

The Summer Lab is a joint initiative between the International and Area Studies Library, the Center for Global Studies, and University of Illinois area studies centers. Designated “Title VI National Resource Centers (NRCs)” by the U.S. Department of Education, these centers have the mission to enhance teacher training and instruction in less commonly taught languages as well as in interdisciplinary area and global studies for the benefit of underrepresented and underserved students. This mission serves community colleges, as the last round of Title VI NRC funding increased opportunities for collaborative programming with two-year institutions. Prior to the Global Area Studies Summer Research Lab, Title VI funds from University of Illinois NRCs supported post-secondary outreach to community colleges and minority-serving institutions in partnership with the Midwest Institute for International and Intercultural Education, a consortium of two-year colleges. The Center for Global Studies also joined other University of Illinois NRCs in providing curriculum and professional development opportunities for faculty and cultural immersion activities for students at Parkland College in Champaign. The Global and Area Studies Summer Research Lab expands upon such existing programs. It opens up opportunities for new synergies in postsecondary outreach by welcoming instructors, librarians, and international higher education leaders from across the country to explore resources at the University of Illinois.

The task of globalizing campuses involves intricate processes that are packed with challenges at every step. With this in mind, we ask our readers, how can initiatives like the Global and Area Studies Summer Research Lab create integrated programs for comprehensive internationalization? Moreover, what resources are needed to more effectively foster diversity and inclusion at community colleges and MSIs?        

To share your thoughts, comment here or send your feedback to occrl@illinois.edu.

  • Institute of International Education (IIE). (2015). International student enrollment trends, 1948/49-2014/15. In Open Doors report on international educational exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors
  • Levin, J. S. (2002). Globalizing the community college: Strategies for change in the twenty-first century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Li, X. (2007). Characteristics of minority-serving institutions and minority undergraduates enrolled in these institutions (NCES 2008-156). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008156.pdf
  • Ma, J., & Baum, S. (2016). Trends in community colleges: Enrollment, prices, student debt, and completion. College Board Research Brief. Retrieved from http://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/trends-in-community-colleges-research-brief.pdf.
  • Snyder, T.D., & Dillow, S.A. (2015). Digest of education statistics 2013 (NCES 2015-011). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015011.pdf

The Center for Global Studies would like to thank Dr. Heather L. Fox, Assistant Director of Operations, Communications, and Research at OCCRL and Dr. Vance S. Martin, Instructional Designer at Parkland College, for their participation and support of the Global and Area Studies Summer Research Lab.

Dr. Zsuzsánna Magdó  developed the GAS-SRL while serving as Program Assistant at the Center for Global Studies. She can be reached at zmagdo2@illinois.edu.

Dr. Donna C. Tonini is the Assistant Director at the Center for Global Studies. She can be reached at toninil1@illinois.edu.

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