From left: Fulbright Scholar Program applicants Laila Chaudhry, Carly Petrazzuolo, Jill Blondin, Ph.D., Jordan McFarlane, Segen Matthews and Madison Kirkland. (Courtesy photo)

VCU Globe wins national award for innovation in international education

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s global education living-learning program, VCU Globe, will receive the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education. The national award is granted by the Institute for International Education and will be presented at its Best Practices in Internationalization Conference in New York City in March.

The awards showcase the most innovative and successful models for internationalizing the campus, study abroad and international partnership programs.

This award affirms the fact that VCU Globe is an innovative and unique experiential learning program that prepares students to live and work in a globalized world,” said Jill Blondin, Ph.D., director of VCU Globe. “The program offers a nurturing environment for students to develop intercultural agility.” 

“VCU Globe responds to the university’s commitment to provide transformative global engagement for our students,” said R. McKenna Brown, Ph.D., senior international officer and executive director of the VCU Global Education Office. “By this esteemed award, the Institute for International Education hails the vision of our leadership who entrusted the design and delivery of this innovative program to us.”

Since its launch in January 2013, 171 VCU students have completed Globe. The program serves as a springboard for participants to pursue globally engaged interests and careers after graduation and equips them to become responsible global citizens, according to Blondin. 

The program currently enrolls 295 students in 59 different majors with psychology, international studies, biology, political science, and health, physical education and exercise science being the most popular. Students in the program take 12 credit hours of globally focused coursework that leads to a certificate in global education. They complete a minimum of 40 service hours with international communities on campus, locally and abroad, working with immigrant or refugee populations at 13 partner sites in the Richmond area. 

Globe students serve as peer mentors to international students on VCU’s campus, assisting with orientations, providing English-language support and participating with them in on- and off-campus activities. Students in the program share the West Grace Street Student Housing-North residence hall with dedicated spaces for visiting international scholars. The Globe experience is capped off senior year with a Global Education Senior Seminar.

Home to one of only 94 Peace Corps Prep program participating institutions in the nation, Globe is also a winner of NAFSA’s 2015 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award, presented to institutions with specific innovative international programs or initiatives.

“IIE created these awards in the belief that international experience is an essential component of a 21st-century education that prepares today’s students for the global workforce and equips them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world,” said IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman, Ph.D. “We congratulate the winners of this year’s IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for their innovative work. We hope these programs will not only be adapted by institutions for their own campuses, but that they will also spark new creative ideas for internationalization.” 

IIE is a membership association of more than 1,300 higher education institutions. Leaders from the award-winning campuses will make presentations at the national conference on March 16 to help higher education policymakers and professionals advance their internationalization efforts, and to promote excellence and innovation.