Higher education today requires our future faculty and academic leaders understand and embrace global higher education. In response, the Preparing the Future Professoriate – Global Perspectives Program (GPP) was developed by the Graduate School at Virginia Tech in 2005. Offered through Virginia Tech’s educational facility (Center for European Studies and Architecture [CESA]) in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, the program is an intensive educational study abroad program including visits to numerous universities in Switzerland and selected universities in Italy, France and Germany. GPP is an integral part of the Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiative offered through the VT Graduate School.
The Global Perspectives Program enables graduate students to examine differences in academic practices and to develop innovative and effective approaches that foster international awareness and education. This program provides a firsthand experience that helps each participant acknowledge differences and embrace a perspective beyond one’s own country of origin. Through the PFP Global Perspectives experience, participants enhance their knowledge and understanding of global higher education, gain a cultural understanding of higher education diverse contexts, engage with new colleagues across academic disciplines, and grow personally and professionally through shared experiences.
During the trip, participants gather firsthand knowledge about global higher education through our (a) visits to selected European universities, (b) discussions with faculty, administrators, and students, and (c) dialogue among the group members. Monthly gatherings are held prior to departure and seminars occur daily during the trip.
In 2010, a bilateral program was established with the University of Basel. Graduate students across various academic disciplines from both universities participate in global seminars, visits to universities, and culminate their experiences in a joint Global Graduate Seminar at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC.
Two additional programs were offered in 2012. In January ’12, the Graduate School and the Office of International Affairs provided the opportunities for six doctoral students to visit universities in Chile as a natural extension of the global perspectives program to Latin America. In response to inquiries from graduate deans around the nation, VT organized a global perspectives program for selected graduate deans in July 2012. The goal was to share our efforts with other graduate deans and to encourage them to develop similar programs. Greater details of the itinerary and participants can be found at this site.
The global perspectives programs have had great impact upon the participants and our collective understanding of global higher education. Over 100 students have participated to date with 14 more in the 2013 VT GPP program. The dialogue continues through: GPP twitter, the LinkedIn GPP Alumni group, photos sharing via GPP Flickr, GPPVT Facebook, the GPPVT homepage, and GPPVT YouTube.