ERIC Identifier: ED321833
Publication Date: 1989-12-00
Author: Quimbita, Grace
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges Los Angeles CA.
Internationalizing the Community College: Examples
of Success. ERIC Digest.
With the world becoming more technologically, economically, and politically
interdependent, the word "community" no longer applies only to neighbors
citywide but to neighbors worldwide. Community colleges must share the
responsibility for alleviating the ignorance of the U.S. population about
other nations and global issues by institutionalizing international perspectives.
Shannon defines international education as "any activity which fosters
an awareness of problems of transnational or transcultural significance
and encourages understanding of other nations, peoples, and cultures" (Adams
and Earwood, 1982). These goals can be accomplished by encouraging foreign
students to serve as campus resources for cultural awareness; supporting
foreign language studies; sending students abroad; and encouraging international/intercultural
awareness among faculty, administrators, and staff.
More than 50% of all foreign undergraduate students are enrolled at
community colleges (Backman, 1984). These students are an untapped resource
for promoting cultural awareness on campus and in the surrounding community.
Rockland Community College and Brevard Community College encourage foreign
students to offer tutoring in their native languages and advice on travel
to their homelands, meet with community groups, and promote contacts for
student or faculty exchanges (Krasno, 1985).
Before seeking to enroll large numbers of foreign students, community
colleges should ensure that a reliable support system is in place. Many
international students are unprepared to cope with American customs and
cultural differences. At Pima Community College, this potential problem
is averted by requiring all full-time international students to take a
cross-cultural course which examines cultural similarities and differences
between the U.S. and selected foreign countries. In addition, the college
has produced a "Foreign Student Handbook," which answers questions about
studying abroad and American customs (Gleazer, 1989).
INTERNATIONALIZING THE CURRICULUM
The infusion of international content into community college curricula
can be accomplished through specially designed courses or the incorporation
of lectures or assignments on global themes into existing courses. For
example, Broward Community College has redirected its graduation requirements
to those courses offering an international perspective (Greene, 1985).
Raritan Valley College bases certain remedial writing course assignments
on students' interviews with guest lecturers specializing in international
education (Salas, 1989). The nursing department at Rockland Community College
has added a cross-cultural perspective to its curriculum by exposing students
to local immigrant populations and the health problems particular to those
groups (Berry, 1986).
If there is any course that is 100% international in content, it is
the foreign language course. Bergen Community College is one of the few
two-year institutions that continue to require all associate of arts and
many associate of science students to take a modern foreign language. Courses
in French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish
are available (Backman, 1984).
Rockland Community College's Self-Study Language Service offers independent
study materials and native-speaking tutors for more than 40 languages.
The program serves almost 400 Rockland students each year, as well as corporations
interested in intercultural training for employees (Berry, 1984). The Center
for Slavic and Eastern European Studies at Ohio State University has joined
with local community colleges in another innovative approach. Students
are able to call a toll-free number to speak or listen to a foreign language
STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS
A relatively small number of community colleges offer students the opportunity
to travel abroad, typically as part of short-cycle study tours, work-study
abroad programs, or semester-year abroad programs. Short-term study tours
usually take place during a semester break or summer vacation. Typically,
an enthusiastic faculty member takes a group of students and community
members to a foreign country to study a particular topic unique to that
area. Raritan Valley Community College's study tour of the Yucatan Peninsula
provides a less typical example. This interdisciplinary effort was organized
by a historian, a foreign language specialist, and an anthropologist (Salas,
To assist faculty members in initiating successful travel programs,
the Los Angeles Community College District has compiled "A Guide to the
International Education Program," which offers advice on planning a travel
study class (Culton, 1981).
Work-study abroad programs offer career-oriented students a chance to
gain employment experience and contacts, while exploring another country.
Lansing Community College has established a cooperative agreement with
Biwako Kisen Steamship Company in Japan. The program allows U.S. students
to become proficient in the Japanese language and study Japanese culture
and society, as employees of the firm (Gleazer, 1989).
The benefits of a semester or year abroad have long been recognized,
but frequently costs are prohibitive for two-year college students. These
programs can be made more affordable when operated as student exchanges.
Student exchange programs no longer focus exclusively on liberal arts students,
but are currently involving students in such programs as international
business, criminal justice, hotel technology, and culinary arts (O'Sullivan,
FACULTY, ADMINISTRATOR, AND STAFF DEVELOPMENT
An important part of internationalizing the community college is broadening
the outlook of faculty and staff. There are several ways this can be accomplished.
Travel study programs offer faculty as well as students insights into the
culture, economy, politics of other countries, and faculty exchanges can
revitalize faculty and encourage them to infuse international topics into
their courses. Williamsport Area Community College in Pennsylvania recently
sponsored a South American Field Experience Program for its personnel.
During the trip, each participant focused on a specific personal goal,
ranging from a botanical study of regional plants to a study of the culinary
arts of the region (Martin, 1988).
College consortia provide important support for community colleges interested
in becoming involved in international education efforts. They promote faculty
training, maintain ongoing relations with international agencies, sponsor
exchange programs, and conduct symposia. Cost sharing in activities such
as study-abroad programs, faculty training, and program development may
be critical to the ability of smaller colleges to become active participants.
The Northwest International Education Association has a catalog of 190
courses and instructional packages to help instructors teach with an international
perspective (Gleazer, 1988).
Though many community colleges have made great progress toward internationalizing
their campuses, fully 80% of the two-year colleges in the country have
yet to take their first step. Gleazer recommends the following strategies
to initiate or expand the internationalization process. He urges colleges
to involve the president, board members, and faculty; provide faculty with
released time and funds for curriculum and professional development; establish
a college-wide international committee; and appoint a director of international
education. He also stresses that colleges identify and utilize community
resources; develop links with foreign institutions to encourage faculty,
administrator, and student exchanges, as well as exchanges in technical
expertise, art, and other fields; and participate in sister city or sister
state arrangements. Gleazer's final and most important recommendation is
to relate new international ventures to the existing resources, programs
and mission of the college.
Adams, H. A.; Earwood, G. "Internationalizing the Community College.
ISHE Fellows Program, Research Report No. 2." Tallahassee, FL: Institute
for Studies in Higher Education, 1982. 54pp. (ED 225 638)
Backman, E. L. "Approaches to International Education." New York: Macmillan,
Berry, H. A. "What's a Nice Community College Like You Doing in a Place
Like This?" ACCT Trustee Quarterly; v10 n3 Summer 1986.
Culton, D. R. "Los Angeles Community Colleges: A Guide to the International
Education Program." Los Angeles: Los Angeles Community College District,
1981. 26pp. (ED 231 491)
Gleazer, E. J. "Initiatives in International Education." In Innovation
in the Community College, edited by T. O'Banion. Washington, DC: Macmillan,
Greene, W. "Area 8: The International/Intercultural General Education
Requirement." Community and Junior College Journal; v55 n4 p18-23 Dec-Jan
Krasno, R. "The Contributions of the Community Colleges to International
Education." Speech delivered to the 8th Annual Conference on International
Education of the Community Colleges for International Education, Lake Buena
Vista, FL, 1985. 23pp. (ED 256 379)
Martin, W. J. "South American Field Experience: An Initiative in International
Education." The Implementation Journal for the South American Field Experience."
Williamsport, Penn.: Williamsport Area Community College, 1988. 105pp.
(ED 305 172)
O'Sullivan, W. "The Community College: An International Institution."
In The Next Challenge: Balancing International Competition and Cooperation,
edited by Mary L. Fifield and Clyde M. Sakamoto. Washington, DC: American
Association of Community and Junior Colleges, 1987. 104pp. (ED 280 548)
Salas, D. J. "Infusing International Experience into the Curriculum."
Princeton, NJ: Mid-Career Fellowship Program, Princeton University, 1988.
19pp. (ED 297 791)