Published: April 12, 2010

Students from Ireland and Australia can now interact in a classroom with students from CU Boulder. What is so intriguing about this you ask? It is the fact that these students are living in different spheres of the world while still interacting “face to face” with one another in the classroom. To accomplish this, Dr. Michael Grant, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is using technology that supports the interaction between the U.S and international students. Dr Grant explained, “As corporations, education, NGO’s, etc. are becoming more and more global and international, we want our students to think globally as well.”

What is the Internationalism Program?

Michael Grant received the prestigious ACE award for his innovative use of technology for his Internationalism program. Through this program, students from different parts of the world meet by video conferencing using the technology of Internet video conferencing. He said, “There are fancy cameras where we can see them and they can see us.” At the moment, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Wollongong, in Australia and the Dublin City University in Ireland are involved with this program. A part of the program also requires its’ students to spend a semester or two in either one of these three different countries. Classes under this program are scheduled to work with the time differences in the three countries. For instance, 6 p.m. classes on Tuesday in Boulder will be 10 a.m. classes on Wednesday in Wollongong.

What classes are in this program?

Classes like Bioethical Dilemmas, Global Climate Change and special topics in science are applying this program to their courses. Students from different countries are encouraged to think critically and share their diverse perspectives on ethical issues. Currently, the students from CU and Dublin are sharing contrasting opinions on genetic screening and related ethical issues.

How can students benefit from this program?

This course is designed to generate interaction amongst the students. Dr Grant explained, “One of the fundamental ideas is for students from these three different regions of the world to give very different perspectives.” Though conversations tend to be a little bit different than normal classroom conversations, students are really very enthusiastic about it. Dr Grant adds, “Students find it very interesting and challenging and sometimes surprising how people from other countries have such different perspectives.”

What are the program's challenges?

The Internationalism program is currently affiliated with programs in three different countries. In the future, it might try to affiliate with Asian counties. Some of the examples of the chosen countries are Singapore, Shanghai and India. However, one of the challenges it faces in affiliating with these countries is the absence of compatible languages. Grant said, “One of the challenges of affiliating with such countries is to be sure we have a compatible language because we want to be able to communicate at a fairly high and nuanced level.”

Future Goals

The University of Wollongong in Australia has already graduated two students with an International Bachelor’s degree. Over the next few months, Dr. Grant hopes to get in place this new bachelor’s degree program where CU students can earn an International Bachelors degree as well. Also, he hopes for the students to think more globally. He said, “We want students to be aware and think in a much more expansive fashion than just thinking within the Unites States.”

Dr Grant further explained, “What we do here affects people over there and what they do there affects us.” By pointing out the fact that we are globally interconnected, he also sheds light on the important role of different perspectives in an educational institution. In order to nurture and give room for different perspectives to flourish, Dr. Grant’s Internationalism program is a stepping stone towards more progressive and innovative learning.

Written by: Manaslu Bista, CU ‘11, ASSETT Reporter