Monday, November 11, 2013

Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study, Jonathan Larson, on Grinnell-in-Washington

                  Fostering the internationalization of faculty at a small liberal arts college such as Grinnell is bound to differ from how it looks at research and comprehensive universities. At Grinnell it is often done in tandem with off-campus study, thinking of how the network formed by where we send our students opens opportunities for faculty. At many institutions my office would have “study abroad” in its name, but at Grinnell we put programs from the U.S. in the same field of consideration and management as programs outside it. What are some unexpected ways in which a domestic off-campus program on which our faculty teach, such as Grinnell-in-Washington, contributes to the internationalization of the faculty as one might expect for teaching in places such as London, Tanzania, Korea, or Brazil?
                  My visit at the end of last week to Grinnell-in-Washington (GIW) offered food for thought.  To begin, it is worth thinking about how operating GIW out of an office that focuses primarily on non-U.S. programs forces Grinnell College to think of the U.S. and Grinnell within a shared field of “the international,” which breaks down how we classify programs. As one measure of how GIW has contributed to the formation of international expertise for our faculty, a surprising percentage of Grinnell faculty who have taught on GIW—by my count about 60%--have also taught on Grinnell-in-London, taught on another program abroad, or spent time doing research abroad.
Grinnell-in-Washington can serve faculty not only as a milieu par excellence for meeting other actors engaged in work of global scope, but as a laboratory for mentoring and scholarship on the Grinnell home campus. For instance, faculty can enrich their own networks and reflect on their departments’ professional mentoring of students by observing our pilot alumni mentoring program. Relatedly, while teaching the internship seminar and learning from students about how their experiences as interns are shaped by host supervisors, faculty can learn more about the increasingly important role of mediation and brokering in students’ off-campus experiences. Students, faculty, and staff at Grinnell develop international knowledge that is shaped by people who help plan our trips, arrange contacts, and summarize important issues for us. Students on a domestic internship-based program in Washington, D.C. for a single semester are subject to similar influences.

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