- Dr. Eastman's Vita
- Presidential History
- President's Remarks
- Board of Trustees
- Campus Master Plan
- Strategic Planning
- Strategic Issues
- College Achievements
- Op Ed Articles
Office of the President
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
local: (727) 864-8211
toll-free: (800) 456-9009
fax: (727) 864-1877
Strategic Planning Recommendations
International DimensionInternationalizing Eckerd: External Opportunities, Internal Strengths
Strengthening the international dimension at Eckerd College should be one of our top priorities to compete in the higher education marketplace of the twenty-first century. The external opportunities clearly demonstrate that there is a high demand for globally-oriented educational programs which is not yet being met by our competition. Eckerd College already has many internal strengths in this area that give it an advantage, but with creative thinking and additional resources we can widen our lead and emerge as one of the nation's most distinctive liberal arts institutions in this field.
In the wake of 9/11, American undergraduates clearly perceive the importance of an international curriculum. According to a recent survey of 187 liberal arts colleges, 88% of students said it was important for them to know about international issues and events, while over 90% thought that understanding other cultures and customs would be important to their careers. The current U.S. job market suggests they are right: another study points out that "the demand from government, business and education sectors for qualified personnel with international skills is far greater than the current supply." Not surprisingly, therefore, general public support for the internationalization of the undergraduate experience is high; "more than 75% of Americans favor college and university requirements for international courses, foreign languages, and study or internship abroad experiences." A stronger global orientation in Eckerd's curriculum is clearly going to attract students to apply to Eckerd, and will make them in higher demand in the job market when they finish.
It might at first seem that every liberal arts college in America will notice this opportunity and take advantage of it, making it hard for Eckerd to distinguish itself from the pack. In fact, though many liberal arts colleges claim to have an international orientation, their offerings are frequently rather thin. A recent study by the American Council on Education shows that only one-quarter of America's higher education institutions make internationalization a top strategic priority, and liberal arts colleges as a group were the least likely to do so. Few have dedicated administrative structures for their international programs. And, like other institutions, liberal arts colleges offer a very poor array of languages; the average is only four. Moreover, Spanish now accounts for 64% of all language study, and is increasing, while other European languages have lost enrollments, and non-Western languages continue to make up only a small fraction of the total. In this field, comprehensive and research universities readily outstrip liberal arts institutions.
By comparison with our liberal-arts peers, Eckerd is already in very good shape, with substantial internal resources in international programs. We have a globalized first-year curriculum and require both a Global course and a year of language study. Our strong programs in International Relations and International Business and Management attract many students; as a cluster, they can be considered our top field in number of majors, exceeding even Marine Science, for which we are much better known. We have a high percentage of international students on campus, though many of our liberal arts peers also target this area and are not far behind us. We also beat most of our competitors in terms of our array of language offerings, with eight taught on campus. We have strong faculty and administrative support for international programs, have a dedicated office with three full-time staff members and an unusually wide variety of programs (only 6% of our liberal arts peers offer more than twenty, as we do ). The student body we attract already recognizes this strength; 73% of incoming students listing "study abroad opportunities" as a major reason for coming here, and 53% of our students have at least one off-campus study experience. This is well above the national average for liberal arts schools, though we are less strong in terms of getting students to have experiences of a semester or more. Nonetheless, a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked Eckerd College number one in the nation among baccalaureate institutions for the proportion of its students who study abroad - an impressive achievement, showing that Eckerd College already is developing a national reputation for its international programming.
At the most basic level, what this suggests is that we need to do a much better job integrating and promoting what we already have, which is a fairly strong but not very well packaged combination of resources. Thinking more strategically, however, Eckerd could do a number of things in the international dimension which would make it not merely an above average school, but a truly distinctive one, a national leader in internationalizing the undergraduate educational experience. In framing our strategic thinking, we concentrated on the idea of "global citizenship," and formed our central question this way:
How do we encourage our students to think of themselves as "global citizens" and develop the skills to function in an interconnected world?
Four Strategies for Strengthening the International Dimension of the College
1. Move towards 100% participation in study abroad. The committee members agree that study abroad is frequently a transforming experience in students' lives, opening them up to the wider world, exposing them to challenging new cultures and ways of life, and giving them a new perspective on their own identities. It helps motivate students to learn more about the world, to take non-American cultures seriously, to appreciate the significance of language skills, and to think about how experiences beyond the U.S. can be a part of their careers and lives. Though single, short experiences can be revealing, more is gained by repeat experience and longer-term immersion. Students at liberal arts colleges are strongly supportive of making an undergraduate study abroad experience universal (64% agree with the idea), and it is already something Eckerd is noted for and a key reason it attracts students (as noted in the introduction). We suggest two tactics to help meet this strategic goal:
Tactic 1: Freshman Winter Term Abroad
Tactic 5: Global Center
2. Increase student participation in serious language study. The committee members observe that the majority of Eckerd students do the minimum to complete the current language requirement, and often fail to integrate their study of language into wider cultural understanding, study abroad, or the pursuit of major disciplines and careers. This unfortunately mirrors the poor state of foreign language skills in America, despite the widespread perception of its importance; 67% of students at liberal arts colleges said speaking a foreign language was important to their careers. Because foreign language proficiency is an essential skill in a global society, and fundamental to any deep engagement with foreign cultures, overcoming this resistance in the Eckerd student body must be a cornerstone of our international strategy. We considered at length the prospect of simply increasing the language requirement, but came to the conclusion that it would not achieve the goal of motivating students to study language more seriously, and might even be counterproductive by making students more resistant. We sought instead for tactics which would excite students about foreign language, help them to see its relevance to their career and life goals, and make it a more central part of student life. We are also concerned to maintain and even expand Eckerd's diversity of language offerings, in order to more clearly distinguish ourselves from our liberal arts peers, and to compete with larger public universities with broader language resources.
Tactic 1: Freshman Winter Term Abroad
Tactic 2: Area Studies Programs
Tactic 4: Language Dorms and Tables
3. Develop a full range of interdisciplinary area studies programs. We agreed that language and study abroad efforts must be complemented by programs that support cultural understanding of different parts of the world. Students with more serious interest in particular cultures will find it more inviting to pursue their interests if more integrated, interdisciplinary programs were available to track them towards minors or majors that could complement other fields of study, or stand on their own. Developing stronger linkages between faculty with similar areas of interest and abroad experience would also help to energize study abroad and language programs. Here too, developing a wider diversity of area studies programs, particularly in the developing world, is an important strategy for making Eckerd's international programming distinctive.
Tactic 2: Area Studies Programs
Tactic 5: Global Center
4. Improve global culture on campus. Though this point is the ultimate goal of this committee's strategic thinking, we place it last because we see it primarily as the natural result of the efforts of the other three strategies. Nonetheless, there are several important tactics we recommend that would put the finishing touches on the strategy, particularly with regard to the role of international students; 90% of liberal arts college students believe that their presence on campus enriches the educational experience. Here again we have an opportunity to stay ahead of the pack; only 9% of our liberal arts peers have international students making up 10% or more of their student body, as Eckerd does.
Tactic 3: Recruiting and Integrating International Students
Tactic 4: Language Dorms and Tables
Tactic 5: Global Center
Five Tactics to Get Us There
These five tactics are listed in priority order. It should be stressed, however, that they are strongly tied to one another, and implementing several or all of them simultaneously would increase the positive impact of each of them.
1. Freshmen Winter Term Abroad
Our most dramatic tactic is to make a Winter Term abroad experience standard (though not absolutely required) for all freshmen. The programs would be "prepaid" as part of freshman tuition; students would be screened for suitability, and those deemed unsuitable, or who did not desire to go abroad, would be offered in-country or on-campus alternatives. Many of the overseas programs would include a substantial language component, offering an intensive immersion experience with 40+ contact hours of instruction (using on-site instructors), homestays, and a semester's credit (usually at the 101 or 102 level). These programs would also have a cultural component, organized by Eckerd faculty leaders, which could be targeted to specific disciplines and themes. The faculty leaders would not need to be language faculty, but they should have some facility with the language and culture or be paired with faculty who do. Programs without a language component would also be available. Many trips could be based at Eckerd "houses" (see Tactic 5a) scattered worldwide and could take advantage of an on-site staff person for logistical support. Student groups could potentially be quite large (100 or more) and have several faculty leaders working on different themes. This program capitalizes on the market for an internationalized undergraduate experience by making Eckerd truly distinctive in its international programs, rather than just another player. The program fits well with the exploratory and mind-opening objectives of the First Year Program, as well as its global emphasis, and would add substantial energy and excitement to the entire freshman experience. The on-campus part of the First Year Program could reinforce the Winter Term experience, both in preparation and screening prior to departure, and in support for students after they returned. The language component of the Winter Term is also especially suitable for freshman. In addition, by getting freshman abroad and in intensive language programs as early as possible, we maximize the prospects for them to follow up with further language study and/or a more long term, in-depth abroad experience in the remainder of their four-year program.
2. Development of Area Studies Programs
The committee is recommending what we see as the most promising areas of program development, but we recognize that the particular makeup of each program should be determined by the faculty who will form that program. Thus, though these suggestions are based on preliminary conversations with interested faculty, they should be seen only as rough guidelines.
2a. Consolidate a major and minor in European Studies, and a minor in South/Southeast Asian Studies, and continue to support East Asian Studies and American Studies. We have adequate faculty bases for all of these programs now, though all would benefit from additional resources.
2b. Develop Latin American and Caribbean Studies. This is a natural selling point given our location, and one in which students already express interest. We have received several proposals advocating the development of Latin American and integrated American/Latin American studies, evidence that there is substantial faculty energy for the development of this area. We already have a substantial faculty base, but not enough for a credible program, so some hiring would be required, notably in Latin American History and languages.
2c. Develop Middle Eastern Studies. This is an obvious field of expansion, and we have a natural interest base with our programs in IRGA, diplomacy and human rights, and religion. However, we currently have virtually no faculty resources in this field, so it would require a long-term initiative, on the order of what has been accomplished in East Asian Studies over the last decade or more. We will not be the only school seeking to do this, but we can certainly get ahead of the curve. Interested faculty might begin by forming a Middle Eastern Resources Committee to seek outside funding, bring in speakers, and raise faculty and student awareness and interest.
2d. We should be looking for opportunities in Africa, though we have relatively few resources to support such a program now, and are unlikely to develop it into more than a minor. There is significant faculty interest, however, and well-placed grant money could have a substantial impact.
2e. Perhaps the most important initiative would be to hire a grantwriter to seek outside financial resources for these initiatives. There are significant opportunities in Title VI, Fulbright, NEH, and other public and private resources which we need to be fighting for. The grantwriter should be part of the Global Center (see Tactic 5d).
3. Recruitment and Integration of International Students
3a. Specifically target recruiting international students. This is already underway in the Admissions office; we might also add websites in foreign languages to get information to parents and family members. The committee has suggested a target of making international students 15% of the student body, as they were at our peak in 2000. This would insure that we remain at or near the top of the list for liberal arts institutions.
3b. Integrate international students into on-campus housing. This initiative is also ongoing from the Director of International Student Programs. Some (though certainly not all) international students may wish to be associated with language and culturally-themed dormitories.
3c. Integrate international students and domestic students in the First Year Program. Though international students prefer the additional support they get from the current segregated program, their long-run experience, and the overall culture of the college, would benefit from full integration at the outset. Support services for international students would need to be restructured to cope with this change.
4. Language Dorms and Tables
We would designate certain dormitories for students studying particular languages. Students in those dorms would pledge to speak the language with one another, and would organize cultural activities and language tables in the dining hall. One international intern (brought from overseas via the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program run by the Institute for International Education) would live in each house. A supervisor would oversee intern recruitment and responsibilities; s/he would be housed in the Global Center (see Tactic 5e). This tactic is not only important for encouraging deeper participation in language study, but also would serve to reinforce the global-oriented, cosmopolitan nature of campus life.
5. Consolidation of Administrative Functions into a Global Center
One of Eckerd's strengths is that it already has a dedicated Office of International Education, something only a quarter of our liberal arts peers can boast of. A Global Center, however, would serve to build a broader, more integrated international focus for the college, by coordinating study abroad, area studies programs, international majors such as IRGA and IB, faculty exchange and faculty development resources, language dormitories, speaker series, roundtables, and the marketing and promotion of Eckerd's international dimension. There are several ways the Center might be configured: it could be designed rather like an expanded Office of International Education, with a full-time administrative Director; it could be modeled on the Foundations collegium, with a Director/Associate Dean appointed from amongst the faculty; or some combination of the two. The Global Center would undertake the following initiatives:
5a. The Global Center will require more staff and funding for study abroad programs than we have in our current Office of International Education, in order to administer the Freshman Winter Term programs, as well as increased numbers of students going abroad at other times. The committee has noted the success of the London House in making it easy for students to get abroad, and therefore also recommends that the Center develop "houses" in other locations abroad, to serve as base locations for Freshman Winter Terms and other programs. These would not have to follow the London model; for example, it might make more sense to use on-site staff instead of visiting faculty for logistical support, or to develop long-term relationships with partner educational institutions or hotels or other facilities to accommodate Eckerd students.
5b. The Global Center would work with CALA and the Office of Service Learning to develop internship and service learning opportunities abroad. Eckerd has a far-flung web of international alumni, parents, and local business contacts with offices and interests overseas that it could draw on for this initiative. The development of overseas houses would facilitate the strengthening of these contacts; this has been a significant advantage in the London program.
5c. The Global Center would work to increase globally-themed events on campus by organizing speaker series, hosting roundtables and conferences, and organizing students to share their study-abroad experiences with others.
5d. The Global Center would have a grantwriter on staff to seek outside funding for the development of international and area studies programs.
5e. Global Center staff would supervise the FLTA interns for the language dorms.
5f. The Global Center would serve as a resource for international faculty exchanges and faculty development.
5g. The Global Center would provide additional staff support for the discipline coordinators and other faculty serving internationally-oriented majors such as International Relations, International Business/Management, foreign language and area studies programs.
American Council on Education, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: Final Report (2003), p. 42-43.
American Council on Education Press Release, 5/13/02, summarizing the report Beyond September 11: A Comprehensive U.S. National Policy on International Education. Available at http://www.acenet.edu/news/press_release/2002/05may/intl.ed.html
American Council on Education, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: Final Report (2003), "Executive Summary." Available online at: .
Mapping Internationalization, p. 44.
Alice Gomstyn, "Colleges Make Limited Progress in 'Internationalizing' the Undergraduate Experience, Study Finds," Chronicle of Higher Education 10/28/03.
"Executive Summary," op. cit.
"Executive Summary," op. cit.
Mapping Internationalization, p. 46.
Eckerd Office of Institutional Research, class of 2003.
"Report Urges Federal Effort to Triple Number of Students Studying Abroad," Chronicle of Higher Education 11/21/03, page A33. See attached document. Because the report counts multiple experiences abroad, its percentage is much higher than Eckerd's internal data.
Mapping Internationalization, p. 47.
Mapping Internationalization, p. 44-45.
Mapping Internationalization, p. 48.
Mapping Internationalization, p. 48.
Mapping Internationalization, p. 42.