Nomination submitted by: Dr. Karl Markgraf, Director, Center for International Education
Recognizing that a traditional study abroad experience is just one aspect of a successful international program, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire sought to broaden their offerings to new groups of students and faculty, and attract students who typically were not participating in international education. The university created the International Fellows Program, now in its fourth year, to provide funding to faculty and staff members who want to conduct research, explore scholarly questions, or pursue creative projects together with students in international settings.
Funding for the International Fellows Program comes from the Blugold Commitment, a differential tuition increase approved in 2010 by UW-Eau Claire students and the UW System Board of Regents, with a goal of providing high-impact learning experiences to all students. In a fiscal climate where universities continue to be asked to do more with less, students chose through the Blugold Commitment to invest in more of the high-impact (as well as time- and resource-intensive) educational experiences that prepare them to succeed when they graduate.
The International Fellows Program is dedicated to supporting different kinds of scholarly and creative experiences abroad for student-faculty teams. The program attracts students and faculty with global interests who, for various reasons, have not traditionally participated in education abroad.
“Through IFP, we provide students and faculty with immersion experiences in world regions that are outside the realm of traditional study abroad destinations, and in academic disciplines or creative pursuits that are typically not represented in traditional study abroad programs,” said James C. Schmidt, Chancellor. “By supporting student-faculty teams as they pursue discipline-specific research or creative projects in the arts, the IFP meets the needs of those who want to continue their research or project while immersed in another part of the world.”
The International Fellows Program broadens the university’s approach to study abroad by allowing faculty to engage with students in specific areas of their disciplinary expertise. Participants are required to spend a minimum of 21 days abroad, but many projects involve considerably longer periods. Faculty and students who participate in these initiatives often continue their research, creative and service projects after returning to campus, and they are encouraged to share their international perspectives and overseas experiences campus-wide though venues like the annual Campus Research Fair, as well as at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
Since its pilot in 2010-11, 144 students have completed an international research or creative project through IFP in a wide range of academic disciplines, including art & design, biology, communication and journalism. Seventy percent of those students had not previously studied abroad. Projects have been carried out in many countries including non-traditional destinations such as Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Macedonia and Moldova.
Read the winning nomination, including details on how the program achieves its objectives