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March 3, 2016
The International Programs and Studies Committee (ISPC) of Northwest Missouri State University’s Faculty Senate is accepting proposals through Friday, March 18, from faculty interested in infusing global awareness and intercultural competence into their course content.
Now in its third year, the initiative awards the grants to faculty who demonstrate how an existing class may be augmented to incorporate international themes and content to enhance intercultural competence.
The ISPC, in cooperation with Northwest’s Office of International Affairs, Study Abroad and the financial backing of the Society of International Ambassadors, a foundation fund, offers unrestricted stipends and awards in the amount of $800 each, as funds permit, for successful applicants.
The ISPC is accepting proposals to internationalize course content for implementation during the fall 2016 trimester. ISPC evaluates faculty proposals to determine an appropriate level of objectives, goals and outcomes.
Dr. Keely Cline, an assistant professor of psychology, received a grant last spring and adopted the internationalization initiative for her developmental psychology course this fall. She placed an emphasis on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory – which conceptualizes development as it occurs in multilayered and multidirectional contexts – and by incorporating readings and films with assignments, discussions and class activities that are focused on cross-cultural research and diverse or international populations.
Though it required an additional investment of time, Cline said she was motivated in part to apply for the grant award because she already valued the content. She said drafting her proposal helped her focus her efforts to implement international components.
“The extra stipend I received from the University is much appreciated and reinforces to me the University’s appreciation of the initiative goals and the faculty who are working to promote them,” Cline said.
Cline introduces Bronfenbrenner’s theory and leads a discussion about how it relates to considering development within the context of culture as part of class activities. That theoretical lens is intentionally revisited through discussions and assignments.
Cline designs her assignments, discussions and group activities specifically to help students unpack information from readings and films so they can understand and develop a respect for cultural differences.
“Students are encouraged to self-reflect on their own views and biases and to practice alternative perspective-taking when considering lifespan development from pregnancy through death across cultures,” Cline said. “I emphasize that students do not have to agree with or endorse all behaviors, but they can gain insight and deeper understanding by attempting to understand others’ perspectives.”
Students responded positively to the cultural emphasis in the course, according to survey data Cline collected. Students rated the degree to which the class impacted their knowledge, understanding, interests, abilities and appreciation of diversity-related topics. Using a five-point scale with which a 1 rating indicated “strongly agree” and a 5 rating indicated “strongly disagree,” students’ ratings ranged from 1.2 to 2 across Cline’s three sections of developmental psychology.
“It has helped me develop a better understanding of how culture can impact the way in which an individual behaves,” one student said. “Depending on their background, an individual’s overall perception on life may be drastically different from those around them.”
“Babies,” a documentary Cline shows to the class that depicts infants growing up in four locations of the world, proved especially impactful for some of Cline’s students. Other films explored topics of grief, aging and travel.
“I felt like I was seeing the film for the first time because I was focusing on other things,” one student said after seeing “Babies” for a second time in Cline’s class. “I focused more on the way the children were being raised and understanding their perspective, instead of focusing on the practices that bothered me in the video as I previously did.”
In addition to Cline, Assistant Professor of English Richard Sonnenmoser and Assistant Professor of Agricultural Sciences Dr. Nigel Hoilett received grants for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Five faculty members received awards for 2014-2015. Those recipients were Dr. Ryan Wessell, associate professor of psychology; Cindy Kenkel, assistant professor of management; Matt Johnson, senior instructor of history; Sarah Creason, instructor of psychology; and Cris Jacobson, instructor of psychology.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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