The Institute for Global Engagement: Cultivating a Global Mindset

– David Cook-Martín, assistant vice president for global education and senior international officer

Most people never leave the place where they are born. And yet, their lives today are more affected by what happens in other parts of the world than at any time in the past. Similarly, faraway forces affect students, staff, and professors at colleges and universities. Those of us in communities of higher learning have the added task and responsibility of grappling with the effects of a world in which the distance between places far and near is compressed. 

How do we live fully and justly in a world in which lives and livelihoods here are affected by and affect lives and livelihoods there? Places hold different people, experiences, ways of thinking about and doing things, as well as unequal distributions of resources. How do we encourage a way of thinking and being in the world that makes us better citizens of it? 

The purpose of the Institute for Global Engagement is to cultivate a mindset that invites faculty, students, and staff to grapple with these kinds of question. The institute leads strategic thinking about the College’s global initiatives, fosters and administers external partnerships and collaborations, promotes faculty and staff development in international areas, and supports global programming and research. It encompasses programming for off-campus study, course-embedded travel, and visiting scholars. A new program will support language acquisition and build intercultural competence. 

The institute aims to support the Grinnell community as it:

Internationalizes the curriculum. This goal may be met entirely on campus, for example by identifying and promoting courses that have a global component or perspective. Or it might involve travel related to the pedagogical objectives of a course. The institute supports faculty and courses that allow students to gain a deep and critical knowledge of the world, including the United States. Faculty-led, course-embedded travel is one way Grinnell has made its curriculum more attentive to how students understand (1) a place different than their home country, (2) a global process or system, (3) contextually informed debates about practices, customs, and ideas, and (4) their home countries in a global context. 

Promotes closer ties among students from different countries and/or those who have lived in, or had significant experiences in, countries other than their own. Students who come to the United States from other countries or U.S. students who travel for short or long periods all have insights and perspectives to share with each other.  

Supports travel to other places so that students and faculty can get to know people there, their experiences, how they think, their struggles and travails, and how our worlds are interconnected as well as the same and different. The institute supports travel that helps Grinnellians learn about the people, the history, science, and art of another place.  

In its first year, the institute will focus primarily on laying the organizational foundations on which to build in subsequent years, but also on providing existing programming for students and faculty. There is much work to be done, but possibilities are thrilling! 


Share / Discuss