COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Every college at WSU should be pursuing partnerships that support international experiences for their students. It is part of the responsibility of higher education to prepare students for a globalized society, and nothing is better for that than creating opportunities for people to experience cultures different from their own.
Increasing WSU’s global presence will help research, exchange programs and the overarching goal of graduating well-rounded, worldly students. Reaching out to other organizations for support and collaboration is an important aspect of maintaining the fiscal health of a university, as well as accomplishing academic goals.
For the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, this goal is at the forefront. In February, the college received confirmation that two of its proposals for collaboration with European universities were approved by the Erasmus+ program.
Erasmus+ is an organization in the European Union that grants funding to universities in both Europe and the U.S. that wish to partner. Students and staff can use this funding for traveling between the two schools for exchange programs and research support.
According to Joseph Iannelli, associate dean of the Voiland College, with this most recent approval, they have $91,000 available for student and faculty travel and lodging in Europe.
However, Iannelli stressed that in order for WSU to access those funds, students must apply for programs within Erasmus+ funding. This means Voiland College students are most likely to participate, but there are a number of proposals in motion for other colleges to receive funds.
“The overall objective is … to graduate globally educated students,” Ianelli said. “When we have the opportunity of welcoming students from overseas, they learn about WSU and they make friendships with WSU students.”
Ianelli said his main goal, and the one from which he derives the most satisfaction, is giving students these kind of opportunities. When people can have experiences in other countries, he said, it deepens their understanding of globalized society and helps them connect with what it means to be an American.
“More often than not, these overseas students tell me, ‘Wow, I have been able to eliminate so many stereotypes, I have made great friendships with WSU students,’ ” Iannelli said. “And the WSU students who go overseas tell me exactly the same thing.”
Ianelli said that because resources at WSU and other universities are limited, it is crucial for them to explore options for acquiring additional funding.
Other colleges at WSU are either planning or have already created proposals for partnerships overseas, which means that soon, a number of majors will have opportunities for supported travel.
All colleges should be pursuing programs to give their students these international experiences. It makes sense to send history students to see first-hand the cultures they are studying, or to send science majors to places that have equipment and resources that focus on their research.
The College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and others will likely be able to provide these kinds of opportunities to students in academic disciplines beyond computer science and engineering.
Investing time and energy into fostering these relationships is directly aligned with the mission and values of WSU, especially because the cost of establishing a partnership is much lower than the grant that accompany them. In many cases, the return on investment is more than 60 times what was required to secure the funding.
According to the WSU Mission, Vision and Values statement, “We embrace a worldview that recognizes and values the importance of domestic and global diversity, global interdependence, and sustainability.”
Fostering meaningful, cost-effective relationships with prestigious universities overseas is the best way to accomplish this.