Shelby Newport is the director of the International and Global Studies (IGS) program at the University of Michigan-Flint. She discusses the program and related issues in this interview with UM-Flint staff writer Robert Gold.
How can the International and Global Studies program enhance a students' professional and personal development?
International education has a profound effect on students' professional and personal development. Traveling abroad allows students to shift their mindset to a more open, global way of thinking. The minor within the program is designed to allow students to experience global themes from a variety of disciplines including Anthropology, World Health, International Management, Women's and Gender Studies, World History, and many others. Students who study abroad in faculty led programs report major personal growth and often come back to campus with a renewed sense of place and purpose.
The university continues to draw more and more students from others countries. How does the program help celebrate and leverage this?
The growth in our international student population is really exciting and the International and Global Studies Minor helps them explore other areas of international education, and provides the framework for focusing on international relations and global trends. The Faculty Led Study Abroad programs allow our international students to travel through the lens of a discipline specific course and hopefully explore more of the world using UM-Flint as their home base. IGS also partners with the Education Abroad Office to give our international students academic support.
As a faculty member, what were your experiences with the International and Global Studies program before becoming director? How was it beneficial to you, and to your students?
I have had the opportunity to co-lead two IGS Study Abroad courses to England. The courses have been focused around my content area of Theatre Design, but through the interdisciplinary approach of the course design, both courses had a wide variety of majors and interests participate. The students benefitted from the Education Aboard Scholarships that covers a good portion of the program fee and really make it possible for UM-Flint students to travel internationally. Also, as a core faculty member of IGS I have benefitted from working closely with faculty members from the disciplines that make up the minor and areas that participate in study abroad. We have so many amazing faculty & staff members working on our campus to promote international education and a global mindset.
Is there anything that students may find surprising about the program?
I think the variety of options that you can choose to make up the 21-29 credit minor is surprising, students can really create an IGS minor plan that give them a diverse background of core courses and then options that allow them to focus on regional and topical studies. Also, it might be surprising to students who thing that study abroad is out of their reach financially, that there are many scholarship and loan options available. If they start planning early with the help of the Financial Aid Office and get creative about fundraising it is possible! Many students who have traveled with me abroad will tell them "The experience is worth the trouble!" Study abroad is a life changing experience and that is why I feel so passionately about finding ways to make it financially feasible for our students.
How does the program work with the Office of Education Abroad, or other departments and organizations on campus?
IGS works closely with many offices and departments on campus, it takes a lot to get study abroad courses off the ground. Many offices are involved with the planning and processing phases of study abroad courses, so I have tried to forge positive working relationships with them so that I can be an advocate for our students and faculty leaders. The Office of Education Abroad is vital to the success of IGS Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs, they are the logistic support and the go-to for our students who are interested in traveling abroad.