Global Engagement

KEY IDEA #3: Virginia Tech seeks to engage globally

Presidential Global Scholars. Click on the image to visit the blog site.


Virginia Tech, its students and professors respectively, operates in a world where national boundaries become increasingly permeable. Moreover, the world is undergoing significant demographic shifts: Asia’s population, and more importantly its economic influence, is growing dramatically, while such growth in Africa, Europe (particularly Eastern Europe) and South America is more moderate. Because little growth is anticipated in North America, it can be anticipated that student bodies and the professoriate of leading universities will become increasingly international.In addition, research projects – including the professors and students who conduct research projects – as well as
institutions who sponsor those research projects become increasingly international as well.

•       Each academic department establishes and/or expands its own exchange programs with universities located in other continents. Virginia Tech undergraduate students are encouraged to enroll at those partner-universities, while undergraduate students of those partner-universities study at Virginia Tech.

A global neural network

•       Virginia Tech promotes and supports that each academic department establishes and/or expands exchanges for its professors and the professors of its partner-universities

•       Each academic department partners with international institutions, corporations, and other international organizations and establishes internships for undergraduate students

  • Promote and support opportunities for undergraduate students to engage with international graduate students and faculty members here on the Blacksburg campus, as well as connect with international student organizations engaged in outreach and education.

Potential Obstacles:

  • Federal and state regulations
  • Study abroad exchanges in academic settings demand financial recourses
  • Inability to operate successfully in other countries with different customs and traditions

Unresolved Issues:

  • The first impediment to engage globally is often the lack of foreign language ability

Strategic Contribution:

By means of operating internationally, Virginia Tech, its students and professors respectively, positions itself to increase its relevance in education and research globally. Virginia Tech positions itself to react to major demographic, economic, and cultural shifts.

1 Response to Global Engagement

  1. Ruth Grene says:

    Since the lack of foreign language ability is a first impediment to international work, I suggest two changes that address both sides of this problem.

    1. All undergraduates, regardless of major, be required to achieve fluency in one foreign language. We have excellent programs in language instruction here, and there is no excuse for not requiring those in STEM fields to avail themselves of this resource, including the intensive immersion programs offered over the summer. Any graduate student whose work has an international component should be subject to the same requirement.

    2. We do a great disservice to our international graduate students by not insisting that they become fully competent in formal, written, and spoken, English. International graduates of our rigorous doctoral programs with wonderful skills often cannot find academic positions because of their inadequate English language skills. They often languish as “permanent post-docs” in big labs, becoming embittered, and eventually, unproductive. Their dissertations and research papers are re-written by faculty mentors who are native speakers/ fully competent in formal English, because they do not have the requisite skills to produce a polished final document.
    Again, we have the mechanism in place to bring these graduate students up to speed in the formal English of their disciplines. Money should not be an impediment to bringing about this social change. If we wish to reap rewards for the investment that VT, NSF and other granting agencies, routinely put into these international students, we must think hard about their linguistic difficulties. Not to speak of the latent xenophobia that this practice displays to that same global community that we aspire to join!

    If we do not want to be thought of as “ugly Americans”, both of these points need attention.

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