The Office of International Affairs and the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning are working together to help faculty members take their courses international.

Global Teaching and Learning Fellows is a new initiative from the Office of International Affairs and the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning to help faculty members take their courses international and give students more opportunities to think globally.

“At Lehigh, we want to prepare intellectually curious students who can position their own worldview in relation to the other perspectives and contribute to solutions for real problems,” says Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs. “This initiative supports that work by defining teaching strategies for effective international and intercultural learning.”

The GTLF initiative supports faculty who want to embed international elements into existing courses, expand course and curricular offerings, create improved study abroad options, or establish international connections to advance student research. It intentionally builds on existing faculty experiences in developing successful international courses.

Teaching courses abroad can provide transformational moments, where students experience what they’ve learned and see how theory plays out in real life, but it takes special effort to facilitate those moments.

Greg Reihman, Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

To launch the initiative, OIA and CITL hosted a Global Learning Summit in December 2018 with four professors who have led Lehigh courses abroad in diverse disciplines and geographic locations: Kelly Austin, associate professor of sociology; Jack Lule, Iacocca Professor of Journalism and Communication; Don Morris, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; and Todd Watkins, professor of economics. Greg Reihman, associate vice provost and director of the CITL, facilitated the discussion to define good practice in designing internationalized courses.

“The center helps faculty members thinking through the challenges of new pedagogical approaches – how to structure a course and design a curriculum,” says Reihman. “Teaching courses abroad can provide transformational moments, where students experience what they’ve learned and see how theory plays out in real life, but it takes special effort to facilitate those moments.”

He adds that effective international courses require rethinking the role of the professor – in addition to conveying information about a topic, a professor needs to think about student development, craft experiences that support learning and be prepared to respond to unexpected situations and reshape lessons on the fly. Through the summit, the experienced professors helped develop a Lehigh model for internationalizing courses. They also learned from each other.

“I’ve been taking students abroad for almost 20 years, and I learned something almost immediately from other mentors [at the summit],” says Lule, who currently leads the Lehigh in Cuba program. “You learn just from speaking about what you’ve done and why you made those choices. For example, what’s the value of homestays? I had made that assumption, but now I had to explain why. Homestays allow students to see family life, the economics of a household and the lived culture.”

The four professors are now serving as mentors to the first cohort of Global Teaching and Learning Fellows, faculty members who are spending the spring semester attending workshops to learn about research-related good practice for the internationalized classroom and teaching abroad and working on their course designs. After attending the workshops, the Fellows can apply for a grant of up to $3,000 to further develop their course.

The full spring 2019 cohort is:

  • Mark Erle (Computer Science and Engineering)
  • Tong Soon Lee (Music)
  • Anne Meltzer (Earth and Environmental Science)
  • Lindsey Reuben Muñoz (Spanish)
  • Ziad Munson (Sociology and Anthropology)
  • Ageliki Nikolopoulou (Psychology)
  • Paul Salerni (Music)
  • Brook Sawyer (Education)
  • Sarah Stanlick (Sociology and Anthropology)

The fellows come from a wide variety of disciplines and have diverse goals for internationalizing their curriculum. For example, Anne Meltzer, professor of earth and environmental science, wants to develop a field camp that includes undergraduate students in Ecuador. Brook Sawyer, associate professor in the teacher education program, hopes to use Lehigh’s new partnership with the Innova Schools in Peru to enhance classes in education leadership.

The initiative is a natural fit for Lindsey Reuben Muñoz, assistant professor of Spanish and Hispanic studies. She wants to teach her course, “The Cultural Evolution of Spain,” in that country, where students can see the builds and experience the cultures they’re learning about. As a Fellow, she especially appreciated the opportunity to meet other professors from across campus and make contacts like the representative from IES Abroad, a major program provider, who came to speak with the group.

“I know my content, and I know Spain really well, but I want to learn the logistics of taking students abroad,” Muñoz says. “How does one think about a program, build it, market it, make sure students are safe?”

The fit is less obvious for Mark Erle, professor of practice in computer science and engineering. But, like almost all fields, computer science is now a global industry. A student may end up working at a multinational company or at a U.S. company with an international market.

Erle is redesigning one course that requires students to manipulate and analyze datasets to incorporate World Bank data about demographics in other countries. He is also creating a new study abroad program where students will work together to develop software that will have social value, for example, supporting an NGO in the host country by using technology in a constructive way. In addition to a three-credit computer science course, the experience will include a general course on the history and culture of the country.

“Our students are entering an interconnected and globalized marketplace,” he says. “From a prospective employer’s point of view, it’s valuable for them to understand other cultures. But it’s not just about money. We’re all living on the same sphere. For every field, it’s important that we do our best to instill values that are universal – everyone is equally important and we should do our best to care for one another.”