International Educator - January/February 2013 - 42
| University of Michigan | Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan is an area studies bastion, with six national resource centers among the International Institute’s 18 centers, plus a federally funded international business center. But that distinctive strength also means the Michigan centers were hard hit in 2011 when Congress cut Title VI funding for the national resource centers by 47 percent. Mark Tessler, vice provost for international affairs, said, “We’re better Global Scholars for Life prepared than most. Some of these centers The university keeps expanding its interactually have endowments. I think the uninational ambit in ways small and large. versity will support us for a while.” But “the Three years ago it created a living-learnbiggest unanswered question” is what haping community it calls the Global Scholars pens in the long run to the dozens of less Program in which U.S. and international commonly taught languages, Tessler said. students dwell together on the top two Jennifer Yim directs the Global Scholars Program, a living learning community for “If universities like us don’t offer them, floors of a 10-story dorm and work on soundergraduates. then the U.S. just won’t have this capacity.” cial justice projects. “When we advertise, Kenneth Kollman, director of the International Institute, is lookwe say we want students who are interested in making the world a better place,” said Jennifer Yim, the director. It quickly filled up with ing to foundations to help fill in the $1.5 million, two-year funding 35 students the first year, 70 the second, and the capacity of 130 the gap. Although foreign language and area studies fellowships were not cut, Kollman said Michigan has had to cut back on summer lanthird year. “My students say ‘GSP for life,’” Yim said. Xiaoxiao Liu, a senior from Beijing, served as a GSP resident guage workshops and training for Michigan high school teachers. adviser. He was also president of the student government’s inter- The university once calculated that it takes 29 students to pay for national student affairs committee. Liu won math competitions each section of a language course, but some of the centers’ languagas a schoolboy in China, but came to the United States for col- es—including Persian, Serbo-Croatian, Tamil, and Quechua—have lege because he wanted to learn more than the math and sciences as few as five students, he said.
The engineers are as much interested “in a challenging experience as they are in academic credit,” said Amy Conger, who directs the college’s international programs. “They want an experience that is engaging, professionally relevant, and that’s going to teach them something new. They want to tackle a problem.” Bryan Rogers, retiring dean of the School of Art and Design, took an art class while completing a PhD in chemical engineering at University of California Berkeley and wound up reengineering himself into a sculptor and installation artist. The School of Art and Design is the smallest school at Michigan, and Rogers spent a couple of years selling the idea of education abroad to his faculty before convincing them to make international travel and study a requirement for the major. Rogers, who did postgraduate work at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, said, “Being somewhere else helped me better understand who I was. That’s what I want for our students and faculty…. The idea is not to go somewhere and get culture dust sprinkled on you, but to get away from the things that you’re familiar with and have an experience that helps you see where you came from.”
Dean of Art and Design Bryan Rogers convinced the faculty to require international study.
emphasized in China’s universities. “Here you can speak whatever you want to say. People tend to have more diverse views of what’s going on. That’s something I really wanted to explore,” said Liu, who pulled off a rare triple major in actuarial math, statistics, and economics. John Greisberger, director of the International Center, is heartened by the growing number of international undergraduates serving as resident advisers. “Four years ago, fewer than five of the 150 to 160 resident advisers were international students. Now it’s close to 40,” said Greisberger. “It’s a great job on campus. They get free housing and a meal plan. It really does build a multicultural environment within the residence halls.”
An Area Studies Powerhouse
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR J A N + F E B . 13