Developing a global outlook
GVSU looks to expand student horizons
Global learning is stated as one of Grand Valley State University’s objectives, but in many majors, a class incorporating global learning is not required. The Internationalization Task Force aims to change that, and it held two Town Hall discussions last week to gather opinions from other faculty members.
“It’s a way for us to reach out to faculty to talk with them about the situation of internationalization
at Grand Valley,” said Carol Sanchez, who is the director of International Business Programs and is
helping the initiative to incorporate global learning into courses at GVSU. “There are some studies
that have a lot of international content, but some areas that don’t have much.”
At the Town Hall discussion on Sept. 11, faculty expressed concerns that adding another required
class for either the general education program or major requirements might further push back
graduation for many students. Several faculty members said it would be difficult to identify
opportunities where global learning could be incorporated naturally and that it would be difficult to
figure out how they’ve fulfilled this requirement without adding another required course.
Sanchez said that although many programs have global learning opportunities, including study
abroad trips and classes covering international topics, many of them are optional. She added that
many people don’t have the resources to study abroad and could avoid classes with an international
focus, and therefore could go through their entire college career without any global learning, which
could set back students in a future career.
“We want every student to be exposed to significant and measurable global learning by the time
they graduate,” Sanchez said.
Ed Aboufadel, chair of the Mathematics Department, urged faculty to not give up on the idea of
increased global learning because it might be difficult to incorporate into classes. “Some people
might not know how to incorporate internationalization into their courses, but if you never ask the
question you won’t get an answer,” he said.
The Internationalization Task Force had the difficult job of also defining and agreeing on what
global learning means. It came up with a broad, workable definition that could be adapted with
The definition included exposing students to an analysis of and engagement with global systems
and legacies. By doing this, the task force hopes that students become more informed and open-
minded, seek to understand more about other cultures and how their actions affect local and global
communities, and address world issues with collaboration and fairness.
“GVSU students are well prepared to succeed in college, but many of them are not very worldly,”
said Mark Schaub, who is also working to internationalize more courses. “Many students shy away
from international faculty.”
Schaub, chief international officer for the Padnos International Center, said the purpose of the Town
Hall discussions is to let the task force know whether it will have faculty support, since the faculty
would be the ones to incorporate global learning into the courses they teach.
Schaub also said he hopes the discussions will provide good feedback from faculty so that the task
force will have a better recommendation for next semester.
For more information about the internationalization efforts, visit