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Program Helps Faculty Gain Global Experience

Published: February 1, 2016

As important as it’s become for students to gain international experience in an increasingly globalized world, CSULB thinks it’s equally, if not more necessary, that its faculty members do the same.

To help with that effort, the Professors Around the World (PAW) CSULB Global Faculty Incentive Grants Program has been established. The goal of PAW is to strengthen CSULB’s global mission and comprehensive campus internationalization initiatives by engaging and supporting faculty travel related to international research projects, publications, conference presentations, grant writing, developing study or work abroad opportunities for students, and building relationships with overseas partner institutions.

“We’re trying to promote international engagement among our faculty so the PAW grant is an incentive for them to explore the possibilities” said Jeet Joshee, the Associate Vice President for International Education and Global Engagement who is also the dean for CSULB’s College of Continuing and Professional Education. “Faculty involved and engaged in international activities may also create programs that will benefit our students. The travel grant could be for a short period of time or longer, but even short-term projects can have long-term prospects.”

Joshee points out, for example, if a CSULB faculty member collaborates with a colleague from another country, even on a short-term basis, then even that one-on-one relationship has the potential to form a long-lasting partnership.

“Unless we explore, we would never know what possibilities exists out there,” said Joshee. “Sustaining those relationships are important. You don’t want to create a professional network for just two days. You really want to foster that into something else, something that can potentially have great benefits long term.”

Before PAW, CSULB faculty were networking internationally, but on a limited basis. In general, there was little incentive for faculty to do so, other than their own personal desire and professional satisfaction, according to Joshee.

“We have some wonderful faculty on our campus who engage globally by themselves, but unless there is some financial support and incentive, that can present a barrier for most,” he said.

That’s where PAW comes in. Instituted in the spring 2015, a number of faculty have already benefited from the program, which will be ongoing with two application cycles, one in the fall and one in the spring.

One of the recent beneficiaries from PAW was Emyr Williams, a professor in Kinesiology, who spent time in Ireland with a new CSULB partner institution, the University of Limerick (UL).

“This was extremely beneficial in terms of making connections and in visiting the University of Limerick,” said Williams, who helped set up an exchange program between the two institutions in 2010, but had never visited the UL campus.

Through the program Williams was in Europe for a month in total—four days in Ireland and the rest of the time in Wales, where he spent time at Cardiff Metropolitan University (oldest direct exchange program at CSULB 31+ years) as well as with newest CSULB partner, Trinity St David University in Carmarthenshire, Wales. And, to show his support of CSULB, he even spent time with the CSULB men’s rugby team in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. In full disclosure, those side trips did not use any project funding, but still showed campus support by Williams, as well as his love of rugby.

“The bottom line with all exchange programs is that it boils down to people,” said Williams. “Having the opportunity to meet with faculty and international education staff is essential in the development of these exchange programs.”

Emyr Williams on the University of Limerick campus.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EMYR WILLIAMS
Emyr Williams on the University of Limerick campus.

Another who received PAW funding was Adriana Verdie, who traveled to the city of Mendoza in Argentina last summer to present a conference, a concert and to participate as faculty in the VI Cohort of the Master’s Program in Latin-American Music sponsored by the University of Cuyo.

“In my previous engagements with this program, I held information meetings with several students enquiring about our CSULB music programs and degree options,” said Verdie, a lecturer in CSULB’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. “Additionally, given the relatively low tuition cost for the students in this master’s program, I have encouraged several of our performance students at CSULB to apply and obtain their master’s degree through the University of Cuyo. Enhancing music performers’ expertise in interpretation of Latin American music follows one of the strategic goals for internationalization of the CSU.

“My participation in the international research team and project (described above), along with the promoting of my compositions through conferences and music recitals is vital to my professional development in the international arena,” she added.

Verdies’ trip to Argentina also built on a series of her previous international activities, which included presenting at a conference in 2012 at the UNCuyo; and in 2013, while working on the creation of the opera libretto, being invited to teach at the master’s program and to lead a teacher’s training program.

“All of the above mentioned activities,” said Verdie, “while contributing to my professional development, also strengthen the objectives and goals for internationalization of CSULB programs.”

“These kind of international exchanges are absolutely vital now from all angles,” said Joshee. “That means we’re encouraging faculty to infuse international content into their curriculum and coursework. We’re trying to introduce new courses and increase the number of courses available on campus with international focus. It may be difficult in some disciplines but a natural fit in others.

“For one reason or another, not all of our students will be able to go overseas, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have an international experience. We can create international experience opportunities for our students right here on campus with our faculty’s help,” he added. “If they are taught with international content at least they will have some exposure and that is part of the goal of our Professors Around the World program.”

To learn more at the Professors Around the World program, click here.