How to build an internationalized campus

Study Abroad
June 21, 2023

As people and cultures across the world become more connected and reliant on one another, Denison is investing in efforts to infuse global experiences into every student’s time at college. The university’s Center for Global Programs serves as a hub for faculty, staff, and students, offering resources and support for study abroad students, international students, and much more.

“Our goal is to be an internationalized campus, where having a global lens is part of who we are,” says Professor Katy Crossley-Frolick, director of the center. “We want to view everything — from facilities to faculty, and every curricular question — with a global view in mind.”

In support of these efforts, Denison has embarked on a two-year partnership with the American Council for Education’s Internationalization Laboratory, a global learning community of experts and higher education institutions that offers evidence-based knowledge, resources, and other support. The partnership will help Denison plan its internationalization strategies over the next three to five years, Crossley-Frolick says.

Those strategies will touch almost every corner of the campus: curriculum and programs outside the classroom, support for faculty and staff, policy and partnerships, and leadership. The ongoing focus will elevate Denison’s efforts to be globally oriented and internationally connected.

While Global Programs will broaden its reach across Denison, it also will continue to provide and expand support and opportunities for students to study abroad, which many students regard as one of their most important college experiences.

Study abroad: more than language and culture lessons

There are a multitude of reasons to study abroad, including developing better language skills and self-assurance, and gaining greater cultural awareness in a rapidly globalizing world. Students also broaden their career networks and strengthen their communication skills. But many benefits are “nuanced and even more impactful,” Crossley-Frolick says.

Unfamiliar environments are challenging places of personal growth and strengthening of values. Students gain confidence in who they are and a greater understanding of where they are in context of the entire world, not just the place they are living in.

“Study abroad used to be all about language and culture,” Crossley-Frolick says. “Today, it’s more about who students are, what they want to be, and where they want to go in the world — a world with a lot of challenges.”

Denison expands opportunities for students to study abroad

Currently, 80% of Denison students take part in an off-campus experience. The college’s goal is for every student to gain the benefits of a global learning experience and is committed to identifying and overcoming barriers to achieving that goal. One issue that is no longer an obstacle: affordability.

“Our goal is to be an internationalized campus, where having a global lens is part of who we are.”

When a student chooses to study abroad, Denison offsets the cost of the program by applying tuition aid toward the fees of approved programs, including the airfare to and from the study abroad destination. These opportunities are now financially open to all students, including first-generation students, students from underserved communities, and students from every background, including international students.

Other challenges remain. Among them, Crossley-Frolick says, is STEM majors and student-athletes finding it difficult to fit in a semester abroad. Rigorous degree requirements can be more difficult to fulfill in other programs. Athletes can find it difficult to maintain the physical fitness they need when they return to their sport.

In response, Denison has created several short-term and summer opportunities to study abroad. Students in Denison Seminar courses take short-term travel to places such as England, Germany, and New York City. Students in Summer Seminars have traveled to places as diverse as Uzbekistan and Rome, and other students have traveled as part of their faculty-led summer research. Approved programs have been expanded to give STEM majors more opportunities to complete their degree requirements while abroad.

Global partnerships strengthen student career support

Global travel builds networks and connections, and strengthens the communication skills and global competence that many businesses look for in employees. Several majors and programs at Denison, such as international studies, modern languages, and global health require or strongly encourage students to study abroad as part of their degree requirements. Denison’s career center also provides hefty stipends to support student internships, many of which take place abroad. The Lisska Center for Intellectual Engagement offers advising and support for students to apply to prestigious international Fulbright fellowships, Marshall and Rhodes scholarships, and more.

International students require specialized career support. Josh Gory is embedded in both Global Programs and the Knowlton Center to help international students navigate visa and other challenges of working in the United States.

“I combine advising on career development topics like resumes, networking, and interviews with advising on immigration matters,” Gory says. “Students can get both career and immigration advice that relates to the particular aspects of their job and internship from one person. I work with them to be able to advocate for themselves as the job and internship search can present unique challenges for international students.”

There is always more work to be done. Achieving a fully internationalized campus will take time, resources and planning. Crossley-Frolick says she’s looking to the future and the guidance the ACE Internationalization Lab will provide.

“I’m thrilled to learn from the ACE lab and build strategies at Denison that will align our policies, programs, and people to give all our students the kind of life-changing international experiences that will excite and challenge them, and lead to the personal growth they will thrive on for years to come.”

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