IIE Networker - Spring 2011 - (Page 41)

MINORITY FACULTY Minority Faculty: The Key to Diversifying Study Abroad By Nasha Lewis BASED ON CURRENT research regarding the participation of American students in study abroad programs, it is evident that ethnic minorities who attend colleges and universities in the United States study abroad at lower than average rates. Open Doors 2010 indicates that roughly 80.5 percent of study abroad participants are white and the remaining 19.5 percent are ethnic minorities. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is committed to internationalizing its campus. In line with the university’s 2020 Strategic Plan, VCU Education Abroad is dedicated to providing opportunities for all students to study abroad regardless of their background, and is using an innovative new strategy to increase the participation of ethnic minorities in study abroad programs. The office is working with minority faculty and various academic units to target minority students and persuade them to study abroad. VCU has identified three key ways to utilize minority faculty in the study abroad recruitment process: advising, directing faculty-led programs, and providing funding options for students. Virginia Commonwealth students and professor, Dr. Vivian Dzokoto, set out to explore Kakum National Park in Ghana’s Central Region. Advising Institutions have different models when it comes to academic advising. Whether an institution employs instructional faculty as academic advisors or hires non-instructional staff to serve as academic advisors, instructional faculty still play an enormous role in advising students. Roughly 56 percent of the 364 VCU summer 2010 study abroad participants reported that they heard about their study abroad program through a professor. Students depend on the opinions and direction of faculty to make academic and career decisions. It is an instructor’s obligation to provide guidance that will contribute to his or her student’s academic success. Study abroad is known for preparing students to interact on a variety of levels in this globally interdependent world. It prepares students to live and work in a world that is filled with diversity. Faculty who encourage students to study abroad are contributing to their students’ academic, professional, and personal development; therefore, study abroad offices must reach out to faculty members and show them the dynamic role that they play in encouraging students to study abroad. Because minority faculty members can relate culturally to minority students, they play a more significant role when it comes to encouraging these students to study abroad and advising the students and their families about study abroad opportunities. Faculty have the ability to reach and influence a significant number of students. It is the study abroad office’s responsibility to recruit faculty and educate them on study abroad opportunities for all students; furthermore, they must demonstrate the importance of study abroad and encourage minority faculty to participate in the recruitment process. At VCU, a joint effort between the Education Abroad Office and the African American Studies (AFAM) department promotes minority study abroad. The AFAM department faculty are committed to finding opportunities for students to excel academically. They embrace the idea of study abroad and advertise programs throughout their department and to their students. The department has organized faculty-led study abroad programs to France, Ghana, and South Africa, and collaborates with other academic units, such as the history department, to cross-list AFAM courses. Because of the AFAM department’s commitment to providing international opportunities for its students, there has been an increase in the number of African American students who study abroad, most notably through VCU’s faculty-led programs. Conducting Faculty-led Programs In addition to advising minority students on study abroad, minority faculty should also lead study abroad programs. According to Roberts (2005), lack of faculty support is one of the primary reasons why minority students do not study abroad. In order for minority students to embrace the idea of study abroad and its benefits, faculty must support and encourage these students. What better way to show support and encouragement to minority students than to direct a faculty-led study abroad program? Dr. Vivian Dzokoto, a Ghanaian and a faculty member in the AFAM department, leads the VCU program to Ghana. During the summer of 2010, 50 percent of the participants in Dr. Dzokoto’s study abroad program were African Americans. Her 41

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2011

IIE Networker - Spring 2011
Contents
A Message from Allan E. Goodman
News
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
2011 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards: Innovation in International Education
100,000 Strong: Building Strategic Trust in U.S.-China Relations through Education
Experiencing Difference: The Meaning of Globalization at a Diverse Institution
Diversity in International Education: The Time Is Now
Diversity in Education Abroad: A Plan for Our Campuses
Best Practices for Diversifying Study Abroad on Your Campus
The Ethnorelative Engineer: Culturally Immersive Study Abroad Programs for Engineering Students
NanoJapan: Preparing Globally Savvy Researchers
Minority Faculty: The Key to Diversifying Study Abroad
Best Practices for When Diversity Is Commonplace
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile

IIE Networker - Spring 2011

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