The mission of the AII is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
The AII provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. We work with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change. We measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment. We analyse and compare data to predict future trends. We set international standards on a wide range of things, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals.
We look, too, at issues that directly affect the lives of ordinary people, like how much they pay in taxes and social security, and how much leisure time they can take. We compare how different countries’ school systems are readying their young people for modern life, and how different countries’ pension systems will look after their citizens in old age.
Drawing on facts and real-life experience, we recommend policies designed to make the lives of ordinary people better. We work with business, through the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the AII, and with labour, through the Trade Union Advisory Committee. We have active contacts as well with other civil society organisations. The common thread of our work is a shared commitment to market economies backed by democratic institutions and focused on the wellbeing of all citizens. Along the way, we also set out to make life harder for the terrorists, tax dodgers, crooked businessmen and others whose actions undermine a fair and open society.
As the AII turns 5, we are focusing on helping governments in our member countries and elsewhere in four main areas:
The AII’s core values
Colleges and universities are in a unique position to foster understanding, tolerance and informed dialogue regarding globalization. Indeed, the complex 21st century geo-political environment and global economy require a new paradigm for American colleges and universities. The model for today’s universities must be one that educates students to be competent in their discipline and intentionally prepares them to successfully participate as world citizens in the global economy.
The need to prepare students for a global economy and multicultural society through curricular changes, the recruitment and retention of foreign students and study abroad is clearly reflected in a recent States Institute Report which indicates that,“[t]oday, one in six U.S. jobs is tied to international trade and investment and over the past decade exports accounted for 25 percent of U.S. economic growth.” This need is even more compelling for rural institutions like Dickinson State University because of the isolation and parochial environment inherent to their location. North Dakota has a strong interest in global markets for its products, yet it is currently ranked 43rd in the area of globalization.
With the infusion of international students into campus life, students are given the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with their counterparts from other countries and cultures. This interaction facilitates dialog which leads to greater understanding of global issues, whether political, cultural or economic, as well as shared interests in peace and cooperation. A sense of involvement that extends beyond the borders of the campus, community and state stimulates student learning and enriches the local culture.
ENRICHING THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THROUGH GLOBAL AWARENESS
Dickinson State University, located in rural western North Dakota, implemented a Global Awareness Initiative in 2000 designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with living, learning and leading in the 21st century. Four objectives guided implementation of the Global Awareness Initiative:
1. To create a more diverse and invigorating learning environment by recruiting and retaining international students and faculty;
2. To increase student and faculty involvement in foreign exchange programs;
3. To engage students and area citizens in activities which foster a greater understanding of the economic issues and opportunities related to globalization; and
4. To foster the ideal that individuals can contribute to world peace through education, understanding, tolerance and interaction with people from other cultures.
Making this vision a reality required a multi-faceted approach and the development of appropriate infrastructure. Our efforts to meet these objectives are summarized below.
A Multicultural Center was established to provide support services for international students. The Center staff assists with recruitment and retention of students, plans special campus/community events, and supervises the K-12 international outreach enrichment program. Campus and community activities are designed to integrate students into campus and community life. An example of such activities is the annual Global Awareness Week which features cultural events, as well as national and international speakers. This years’ activities included a panel of students from China, Ghana, Jamaica, Mongolia, Nepal and the United States.
Global Awareness Tuition Waiver Program
The University established Global Awareness Tuition Waivers for qualified international students. The value of the scholarship for four years is approximately $17,000. International students with outstanding academic credentials also qualify for admittance to the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program. Students admitted into the T.R. Program receive additional scholarship support. Study abroad scholarships for U.S. students were established as an incentive to increase student participation in study abroad.
Global Access Project (GAP)
In 2002, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the U.S. Department of State launched the Global Access Project. Dickinson State University was selected, along with 11 other higher education institutions nationwide, to participate in GAP. The goal of the project is to utilize expertise within the state department to increase American college students’ understanding of international affairs and to stimulate interest in careers in international relations and diplomacy.
Digital video conferences, featuring state department officials and international scholars, are shared via the GAP network. The expertise and resources provided through GAP greatly enhanced our ability to internationalize the campus. A GAP web site (www.aascu.org/programs/gap) links the 12 campuses.
Networking with colleagues and educational associations, we established new relationships with universities abroad. We now have partnerships in China, England, Russia, Japan, Mexico and Kazakhstan. Two of the partnerships are particularly noteworthy.
In 2002, a North Dakota University System of Higher Education delegation, organized by Dickinson State University, visited China. As a result, we developed a dual degree program with 15 Chinese universities. This program allows Chinese students who have completed one or two years of study at a participating Chinese university to attend Dickinson State University for a summer, two consecutive semesters and a concluding summer session. Students must return to their Chinese university to receive degrees from both institutions.
In 2003, a University delegation led by a Dickinson State University Russian-born professor visited Russian universities, government officials and business leaders. Russian business leaders and entrepreneurs expressed a strong desire to connect with businesses in North Dakota to explore cooperative business ventures. Furthermore, Russian scholars and government officials engaged in agri-security research want to collaborate with Dickinson State University’s bio-security project. Student/faculty exchanges will begin this summer. The Russian partnerships have great potential on many fronts.
International Speakers Series
An International Speakers series designed to facilitate information exchange and increase global awareness on campus and in the region was established. Notable speakers and topics to date include:
Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova of Kazakhstan shared relevant insights regarding cultural, governmental and economic reforms in Kazakhstan;
The Honorable Tigran Seiranian of the Consulate of Armenia discussed educational and economic development in Armenia;
Ambassador Kostyanta Gryshechenko of Ukraine made a presentation on Ukraine’s evolution as a democratic nation and Ukraine’s involvement in Iraq;
The Honorable Kyu-ho Choo, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, shared information related to entrepreneurial practitioners in South Korea and the North Korean conflict;
Dr. Lois Aroian, deputy director for the Office of South African Affairs’ Bureau of African Affairs for the U.S. Department of State, made a presentation on “The Evolution of Women’s Leadership in South Africa”; and
Ms. Fauzia Sharifi Assifi, member of the Afghanistan Peace Council, spoke on Women’s Role in Afghanistan’s past, present and future.
International Flag Plaza and Walk of Pride
The University’s Foundation funded design and construction of an International Flag Plaza and Alumni Walk of Pride as its 50th Anniversary project. The Plaza features the flags of each enrolled international student. This beautiful plaza, located adjacent to the Student Center, serves as a highly visible reminder of our commitment to global awareness. In addition, the University’s Commencement exercises are punctuated by an impressive “Parade of Nations” presentation by university students from their respective nations.
General Education Program Review
A review of the general education core was initiated, partially in response to the perceived need to increase our emphasis on global and multicultural issues. Simultaneously, we began exploring strategies to integrate global and multicultural topics across the curriculum.
Enrollment and Study Abroad
In the fall of 2000, Dickinson State University had 20 international students from six countries. At that time our American students were not expressing noticeable interest in study abroad. Three years later, we have over 100 international students from 28 countries, and 30 American students have participated in study abroad programs in Europe, Mexico and Kazakhstan. The American students’ interest in study abroad was directly related to the increased interaction with international students on campus. In the same time frame, four international faculty have been hired.
The Global Awareness Initiative had been launched only months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States. In the weeks and months following the terrorist attacks, higher education officials were under scrutiny to examine admission and tracking procedures for foreign students. Moreover, the U.S. Department of State modified the visa process, thereby curtailing the number of foreign students entering international programs in the United States. In light of the emerging environment, we reassessed our goals and objectives with regard to the Global Awareness Initiative and concluded that the need to proceed was even more compelling.
Dickinson State University, through its Global Awareness Initiative, has become the conduit for connecting students, citizens, businesses and institutions in a collaborative effort to understand global issues. We are preparing our graduates, and the citizens of southwestern North Dakota, to successfully participate in a multicultural society and global economy. The University’s endeavor to facilitate economic development and promote global awareness is congruent with the North Dakota University System Strategic Plan which calls for institutions to expand and diversify the economy and to be competitive nationally and internationally. We also are seeking a FIPSE Grant to expand and intensify our efforts in these areas.
Much remains to be done; however, the October 10, 2003 dedication of the International Flag Plaza and Alumni Walk of Pride and our continued commitment of institutional resources clearly demonstrate our resolve to Bring the World to North Dakota .
1 States Institute Report, November 20-22, 2002 States Institute on International Education in the Schools, New York: Asia Society, Page 9.
2 New Economy Index. Home page. 2002. The 2002 State New Economy Index
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