FSU Receives Grant for New Course to Focus on Global Perspectives

Thursday, April 28, 2011

 Fairmont State University is one of three West Virginia four-year public universities awarded a grant focusing on international education by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

The Commission awarded three grants to develop or expand international education initiatives aimed at improving the global literacy of the state’s student population. The grant awards are part of the Commission’s continuing emphasis on internationalizing higher education in West Virginia. The winning grant applications were chosen from proposals submitted by a majority of the state’s four-year public colleges and universities. Concord University, Fairmont State University and Shepherd University were each recipients of a $10,000 grant award.

 “These grants will assist the state’s colleges and universities in better preparing graduates for an increasingly globalized society by integrating international experiences and perspectives into the curriculum,” said Dr. Brian Noland, the Commission’s Chancellor.

FSU’s grant proposal was submitted by Dr. Erin Hippolyte, Study Abroad Coordinator and Assistant Professor of French, and Dr. Sunil Surendran, Professor of Marketing and Management. The focus of their successful grant proposal is to develop and implement a new course, “Introduction to Global Perspectives,” which will become a regular part of the general education curriculum and will target freshman-level students. 

“A vital part of a rich educational experience is preparing our students to succeed in a global economy and society. I applaud Dr. Hippolyte and Dr. Surendran for their foresight and dedication to pursue this opportunity, which will significantly enhance Fairmont State’s ability to provide exposure to international perspectives,” said Dr. Maria Rose, FSU Interim President.

“Introduction to Global Perspectives” is being planned for spring 2012 and will include a study abroad experience led by a faculty member. The course will provide students the opportunity to explore global questions early in their college studies and make plans for continued global engagement throughout their lives. The course will also create an opportunity for faculty across disciplines to come together around the goals of internationalizing the curriculum and general studies. The course will integrate a study abroad experience that will take place in Canada during spring break. The grant funds will be utilized to offset the cost of the trip for students to make it affordable and accessible to as many students as possible.

“We are happy that this grant will help students gain international experience and a multidisciplinary perspective on global issues. The Commission has been a wonderful support for internationalization on our campus throughout recent years, and we would like to thank them,” Hippolyte said.

“The grant will provide students at Fairmont State University an early exposure to complex global issues through interdisciplinary classroom discussions along with a trip abroad. As we live in an increasingly inter-connected global world, such experiences will become a necessary part of any higher educational program going forward. I would like to thank the HEPC for taking the initiative to fund such projects that will enrich educational experiences for our students across the state,” Dr. Surendran said.

Dr. Kathy Butler, the Commission’s Vice Chancellor of State Colleges and Senior Director of Academic Affairs, highlights many recent accomplishments since the Commission established the Consortium for Internationalizing Higher Education in May 2006. These include: conferences and workshops, a statewide study abroad program in Canada, and a web site, www.studywv.org, to promote West Virginia as a destination for international study. “This state-level focus is needed to develop and enhance the international dimension of the state’s higher education system,” stated Butler.

According to Dr. Clark Egnor, Executive Director of Marshall University’s Center for International Programs and the Chair of the Consortium for Internationalizing Higher Education in West Virginia, the grants are a welcome opportunity for colleges and universities who are faced with the challenge of internationalizing curriculum in an environment of scarce financial resources. 

“Due to the homogeneity of the state’s population, there is a greater need than in other regions of the nation for an education that prepares college students to be successful in today’s economy,” said Egnor. He further noted that “these grants and other support from the Commission will help the state’s colleges and universities rise to this challenge.”