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College Showcases Global Reach for International Education Month

October 31, 2019

As an educational environment with a broad global reach for many years, the FSU College of Social Sciences and Public Policy will be an integral part of the university’s celebration of international education throughout the month of November.

The university’s profile as a globally focused institution has steadily increased, particularly after winning prestigious awards in the past two years for excellence in integrating international education throughout all facets of the university.

“FSU has a rich history of supporting internationalization and cultural diversity,” said President John Thrasher. “Ensuring that our students have the skills, competencies and global awareness needed for success in the 21st century has long been one of our top priorities.”

FSU showcases this richness in a series of academic, social, cultural and culinary events throughout the month, including the following programs organized or sponsored by the college:

“Saving Colombia’s Fragile Peace” – a lecture by Adam Isacson, Director for Defense Oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America. The college’s Broad International Lecture Series frequently partners with the FSU Center for Global Engagement to bring international speakers and issues to students.

International and Cultural Studies Fair – a chance for students to learn about global study opportunities and related programs and organizations on campus, organized by the college’s multi-disciplinary international studies programs.

Immigration: An Interdisciplinary Symposium – a full day of conversation and presentations exploring the immigrant and refugee experience, sponsored by the FSU Libraries with support from the college. The symposium features a presentation by Assistant Professor of Sociology Mathew Hauer.

Education with a Global Outlook
Beyond the special events scheduled for the month, the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (COSSPP) has long offered education with a strong focus on global issues in disciplines as diverse as economics, urban and regional planning, public health, public administration and geography, among others.

Some of the most sought-after degrees in the college’s academic profile are specifically geared to international studies, including International Affairs, Asian Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Russian and East European Studies.

The college has also been a key resource in the university’s entrepreneurship initiative, training students as social entrepreneurs as they seek to create sustainable enterprises to address contemporary society’s toughest challenges in the U.S. and abroad.

One such student, Hannah King, earned her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs in 2019. While still a student at FSU, she exemplified the college’s Get More Than a Degree initiative by creating an enterprise that has won multiple awards on the campus, state and national levels. Woven Futures sells sustainable, eco-friendly clothing; offers business skills training; and provides microloans, all for the benefit of female artisans in King’s native Guatemala.

“Our students come from all backgrounds and walks of life, including many international students who major in one or more of the college’s programs on both the undergraduate and grad student levels,” said COSSPP Dean Tim Chapin. “Equally important, the students who come through the college leave with a greater understanding of the cultures, institutions and unique challenges of nations and communities throughout the world.”

Getting More Than a Degree
Beyond the classroom, the college offers ample opportunities for students to engage actively with the world while still at the university, broadening their understanding and focusing their commitment to become agents of positive global change.

The William A. Kerr Intercultural Education and Dialogue Initiative is dedicated to the expansion of educational opportunities for underprivileged youth around the world and to the creation of a vibrant international dialogue at FSU. The organization sponsors seminars and institutes to prepare emerging leaders for conflict resolution and partners with universities in other nations to support collaborative research on how best to reconcile differences among cultures and faiths.

A key aspect of the initiative are the fellowships awarded to students from conflict, post-conflict and developing nations to pursue degrees at FSU. James Kassaga Arinaitwe, who was in the first cohort of Kerr fellows in 2010, earned his Master of Public Health degree in 2011 and went on to become co-founder and CEO of Teach for Uganda, which works to expand educational opportunity to all children in his native country. He was awarded the Reubin O’D. Askew Award by the FSU Alumni Association in 2017.

The Global Peace Exchange was founded in 2006 by enterprising FSU undergraduates, including International Affairs majors Maria Kueken and Nick Fiore. Since its inception, the organization has fielded more than 120 students to work with governmental and nongovernmental organizations in 12 countries: Brazil, Cambodia, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Moldova, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, Thailand and Uganda. Partnerships have been formed in those countries to support development initiatives in multiple sectors, including education, community health, business and social entrepreneurship, the environment and women and youth empowerment.

Social Science Scholars, a signature program of COSSPP, annually selects 18 outstanding juniors with majors in the college and offers them an extensive leadership training seminar that prepares them for study, research and service projects carried out globally, generally in the summer before their senior year. Generous donors support stipends up to $5,000 for these students to complete their projects and report back on their accomplishments.

Social Science Scholar projects have included researching human trafficking (Sweden) and black identity (Brazil), providing supplemental art education to rural children (Costa Rica), volunteering with organizations supporting deportees (Mexico), interning with an international fraud-protection company (South Africa) and teaching English (multiple countries), among many other uniquely rewarding experiences.

The World Affairs Program (WAP) promotes increased awareness of the global community through student participation in Mock UN conferences and Crisis Simulations. In spring 2019, the group was ranked #8 worldwide for its competition wins. WAP has been strongly mentored by former member and COSSPP alum Eric Reading (B.S. ’92, M.S. ’93 International Affairs), now executive vice president of the international development firm Chemonics International and the college’s 2018 Distinguished Alumnus.

The Ruth K. & Shepard Broad International Lecture Series features internationally renowned speakers on topics relating to public policies and international relations on topics ranging from American foreign policy, human rights, the Middle East peace process and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Speakers also participate in discussions with smaller groups of students and faculty members, creating dialogues on the complexities of our constantly changing world.

"Thanks to this strong international focus and our multidisciplinary approach, our diverse student body has a far-ranging perspective that prepares them to become leaders, citizens and innovators throughout the world," Chapin said. "We're deeply committed to the university's global outlook and proud to be a part of its success."