Bethany Examines International Presence on Campus

BETHANY, W.Va. – Dozens of Bethany College faculty, staff, and students took part in discussions about how to expand the international presence of the campus, community, and curriculum.

Dr. Kara A. Godwin, director of internationalization at the American Council on Education, led three campus discussions Tuesday, Nov. 19, as part of Bethany’s participation in the American Council on Education’s 17th Internationalization Laboratory cohort.

She defined internationalization as the way higher education engages with globalization.

“I’ve been blown away since I arrived here at noon yesterday,” Godwin said, noting the commitment of the college leadership. “Bethany College is ripe for this process.”

The goals of her visit, she said, were to challenge how the college thinks about internationalization, and to get people talking about the college’s strengths and weaknesses in the area and how it can move forward.

Participants discussed the value of existing Bethany programs such as the presence of three Fulbright scholars on campus, language and culture requirements, and alumni connections.

Ideas for expansion included a “buddy system” for incoming international students, student groups reaching out to and including international students, using global resources on campus to benefit the greater community and incentivizing student participation in cultural events.

“People having a mind-set that they expect to connect internationally should be routine, not the exception,” said Dr. Harald Menz, co-chair of the department of humanities and director of international studies.

Frankie Taal, a Bethany alumnus from the West African nation of Gambia who is the men’s soccer coach, said he’d like to see the college increase its international student population to 15 to 20 percent. Taal also serves as the adviser of the International Student Association.

Aya El-Shafei, a Fulbright scholar from Egypt who teaches Arabic language at Bethany, added, “It’s not the number of international students, but how you make use of their knowledge.”

Bethany is among 18 colleges and universities participating in the 17th Internationalization Laboratory cohort. The Nov. 19 discussions were a preliminary step in the ACE cohort process.

As part of the cohort, Bethany will spend more than a year developing strategies for campus internationalization with a goal of lasting institutional change. The process, which began in August, will include teamwork on strategic planning, Laboratory meetings in Washington, site visits and peer reviews, and monthly communication with council staff and a team of advisers.

Click here for photos from the discussion.

ABOUT BETHANY COLLEGE

Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.

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