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Faculty Forum Papers



Marlan Carlson
Associate Professor of Music, OSU

March 1990


Is "internationalism" alive and well at OSU? We are the nation's leading land-grant university in overseas research. Moreover, about 11 percent of OSU's student body come from 90 countries of the Global Village. Unfortunately, international research projects and the number of foreign students on campus represent only two thirds of the picture. Conspicuously absent in most reports on international activity at OSU are the numbers of American students participating in study abroad programs.

In August of 1988, the Council for International Education Exchange (CIEE) published "Educating for Global Competence," a report on the state of international education in America's colleges and universities. The committee which prepared this report was chaired by Thomas A. Bartlett, and its primary focus was the "balance of education" deficit that American institutions have with other countries. In this respect, OSU is typical. While 1700 foreign students will spend 89-90 in Corvallis, OSU will send about 150 students abroad. (The University of Oregon has 307 students in international study programs this year.)

The Report "recommends a major expansion of study abroad in order to improve this country's ability to meet contemporary challenges." Among the many recommendations, the following seem to be particularly appropriate to OSU:

1. "The number of college students who study abroad should be increased to at least 10% of enrollment by 1995." With about 1% of OSU students participating in Office of International Education (OIE) programs each year, even partial achievement of this goal would require a massive effort at all levels of the university. To expect the OIE and the Foreign Languages Department to effect such a change by themselves is unrealistic.

2. "Policies for faculty hiring, evaluation and reward can and should be adjusted to reflect recognition of the importance of international experience." "At present, professional academic advancement is clearly hindered at many institutions and in many fields by time spent abroad, particularly for pre-tenure instructors. Such institutional barriers will need to be modified. The goal should be a high level of internationalization of the faculty."

3. "Institutions should encourage, or even require, all departments and schools within the university to include statements in their catalog on how study abroad can be incorporated into the course of study."

4. "Senior administrators must be the leaders in developing revenues for study abroad. It is they who are most likely to persuade trustees, legislatures, alumni, foundations and corporate donors that there is a critical national need to support this essential aspect of American education." "Is now the time to establish an endowment fund to support students who need financial assistance to study abroad?"

In addition to these CIEE recommendations, action on several other issues should be considered.

1. We should take another look at an undergraduate foreign language requirement as part of the institutional commitment to 'international literacy.' A major stumbling block, however, is that far too many American college professors seem to regard foreign language proficiency as something that ended with the Ph.D. exam, hardly an attitude that encourages undergraduates to take foreign languages seriously.

2. CLA needs to review the requirements for the B.S. degree. In the graduating classes of 1988 and 1989, 273 students earned the B.A. degree, which requires the second year of a foreign language while 774 elected the B.S. From my advising experience, the B.S. is almost always regarded as the "easier, non-language" option, which thus reduces interest in the B.A.

3. Positive incentives should be developed in order to encourage many more faculty and students to become seriously involved in international educational and academic activities. Practices which penalize students and faculty (and/or their departments) who go abroad should be eliminated. While OSU has a stunning array of study abroad programs, pitifully few students take advantage of them. Most faculty seem not to know much about these programs, and at OSU it would be easy to think that involvement with study abroad programs is largely a personal matter.

In conclusion, OSU can and should be proud of its record in the education of tens of thousands of foreign students, as well as its leading role in international research and development. It could be that these activities are what we do best, and that they should continue to be the focus of our international effort. If, however, the goals of the Bartlett Report are to be taken seriously and the education of our American students for meaningful world citizenship is to be a high priority, we will need many major changes in thinking at OSU, particularly at the departmental and college levels.

									by Marlan Carlson, Resident Director
									Oregon Study Center in Germany (88-90)
									Associate Professor of Music, OSU

Dr. Carlson is currently residing in Germany at the Oregon Study Center.
Opinions expressed by authors of Faculty Forum articles are not necessarily those of the OSU Faculty or Faculty Senate.