Karen Rodríguez has been named the new Director of Global Citizenship and Professor of Practice in Global Citizenship in the College of Education.

Rodríguez brings to Lehigh an interdisciplinary research background and a career of teaching and leadership experience in Latin America, the U.S. and, most recently, the Middle East. Her research and creative work focus on how we encounter and make sense of difference.

“I am fascinated by the wide range of strategies people, cities and nations employ – consciously or unconsciously – to confront their multiple others, whether these others are spatial, sensorial, social or linguistic,” she says. “As an intercultural practitioner engaged in coaching and consulting, I am also exploring to what extent decolonial and critical global citizenship perspectives might inform executive leadership development within a global context and what the impact of such work might be.”

Karen's leadership will be crucial in developing a robust program that ... guides students toward meaningful engagement in their community and the world.

Bill Gaudelli, Dean of the College of Education

The Global Citizenship Initiative is an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate that prepares students for engaged living in a culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. It began more than 15 years ago with a grant from the Mellon Foundation, and is now a partnership between the Office of International Affairs and the College of Education. It engages across all five colleges and, as part of OIA, connects with Lehigh’s growing portfolio of international engagement. The current program requires five core courses, which Rodríguez will teach, as well as two electives and two international experiences, one of which is a group trip over winter break led by the director.

“Karen is a very exciting choice given her deep experience in higher education coupled with her standing as a scholar,” say Bill Gaudelli, dean of the College of Education. “Her leadership will be crucial in developing a robust program that resonates with the times and guides students toward meaningful engagement in their community and the world.”

Rodríguez has led global education study centers in Mexico and Venezuela for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Pitzer College, and served as academic dean for Latin America at the School for International Training (SIT), dean of studies at Bard Early College Cleveland, and director of experiential education at New York University Abu Dhabi, among other appointments. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the U.S. and Mexico in both English and Spanish on themes related to creativity and difference, psychoanalysis, bilingualism and art. What she most loves is facilitating students’ independent research, theses or creative projects, and she says she is looking forward to learning about students’ Global Citizenship capstones.

“Karen’s combination of deep experience with designing international education programs and her scholarship about how students learn in such programs uniquely prepares her to lead the Global Citizenship Initiative,” says Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs. “I look forward to seeing how she leverages Lehigh’s rich portfolio of international programs in her work as director.”

Rodríguez has a Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of Kent in the UK, a master’s degree in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.

She will begin working with students in the Global Citizenship Initiative this fall, and she will officially join Lehigh in January. She comes to Lehigh with her husband, who has a dual career in global education and NGO leadership; two rescue dogs from Mexico; and, potentially, their son, an artist and entrepreneur who owns a family-created café.