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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

New Name and New Vision: The Center for Global Engagement

By Shaquille Jordan

For more than two decades, universities in the United States have operated Offices of International Programs (OIPs) that focused on international and study-abroad students. At ODU, that has meant approximately 700 of the former and up to 300 of the latter each year. However, in recent years attitudes have evolved to a more inclusive vision of international resources and global education.

"Long gone is the time that students could go through college untouched by the global dimension of their studies and still expect to be fully prepared for life after school," said Paul Currant, ODU's Senior International Officer. "Nowadays, an understanding of other cultures and the global implications of their major is fundamental to their success."

To reflect this different vison, many universities have renamed OIPs to Center for Global Engagement (CGE). In July, ODU also made this change, and Currant believes this is more than just cosmetic.

"The Office of International Programs has not simply been 'renamed' the Center for Global Engagement, we are now redirecting our energies to offer all ODU students the global experiences they now need to assist them in their professional and personal goals," he said. "The OIP tended to measure its effectiveness in terms of the number of students studying abroad and the number of international students enrolled at ODU, but this model no longer works."

Kasie Reyes, one of CGE's two deputy directors, detailed the areas of expansion.

"The CGE will continue all its previous services, including administering the English Language Center, but from now on take a more comprehensive and useful approach that opens up global experiences to everyone by adding study away, COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning), virtual internships, virtual study abroad, integration with other High Impact Practices, curriculum internationalization, and other similar tools and programs," she said.

Another key to the new vision is the integration with other areas on campus, such as International Admissions, the Office of Intercultural Relations and ODU Online.

"This has been evolving for two years," says Steve Risch, director of International Admissions, "and now any silos that may have existed have gone and we very much see ourselves a one global team. To be realistic, in order to get ODU to where it needs to go, there is really no alternative to full collaboration."

Currant has a five-year vision for the CGE.

"The CGE will be a leader in the active promotion of global learning at ODU," he said. "It is a project that has no end date, but after five years our goals are to assist all our students to graduate with meaningful global competences gleaned from an internationalized curriculum and frequent exposure to relevant academic and nonacademic experiences."

Although the pandemic has delayed a full in-person relaunch scheduled for September, the new initiatives are already under way.

"We are already engaged in improving our COIL competence, evaluating new virtual study abroad and study-away options, and have become fully involved with the implementation of High Impact Practices at ODU," said Michael Dean, co-deputy director. "It's an exciting time with new opportunities for everyone."

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