Saturday, November 7, 2015

Community College Corner: The NAFSA Academy

The following is a guest post by Derek Shouba, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Morton College.  Derek will contribute to IHEC Blog on a regular basis and will provide his perspective on a variety of international education topics in the 'Community College Corner' posts!

Many thanks to David Comp for soliciting my participation in International Higher Education Consulting Blog.  Over the past couple of years, Dr. Comp and I have had many conversations about the extent to which the principles of international educational, as they have been construed by competitive, four-year institutions, can be applied to America’s open-access community colleges.  America’s community colleges are of course a vital component of any plan to help Americans gain international competencies in the coming decades.  According to the American Association of Community Colleges, approximately half of America’s undergraduate college students are enrolled at a community college at any given time.

As a community college dean, I’m been obsessed with the following question for quite some time: what can a relatively small institution do to promote international competencies among its students, especially when these students are, more often than not, economically disadvantaged?  In the coming year, my goal will be to explore a number of practical and relatively inexpensive approaches to the broad subject of international education, especially in the community college context.

Today, I’ll merely mention one simple tool that I’ve personally employed this past year to enter more fully into the modern discourse of international education, and that is the NAFSA Academy.   While admittedly geared toward relatively new participants in the field of international education, the NAFSA Academy helped me to quickly and painlessly integrate into the wider NAFSA community.  For a reasonable fee, selected participants are paired with approximately five other international educators, and an experienced Academy mentor, for a yearlong introduction to the elements of international education.  The fee includes registration at a special spring training which covers international student advising issues, U.S. international admissions, advocacy in international education, education abroad and comprehensive campus internationalization.  The fee also includes your registration in a regional NAFSA conference and the national NAFSA conference.

The NAFSA Academy is most appropriate for folks who are relatively new to international education, but even more seasoned professionals will discover that the Academy can help you to create a solid network of like-minded professionals.  All Academy participants also get consistent feedback about at least one action project related to international education.  In my own case, I worked on a formal campus international plan.

While the NAFSA Academy is dominated by participants and mentors from four-year institutions, I was matched with a wonderful mentor from a larger community college and still enjoyed the opportunity to share stories and swap ideas with professionals from M.I.T., Northwestern University, and many other research universities.   I can also imagine that an institution would do well to use the NAFSA Academy as an on-boarding process for new employees in areas related to international education, especially if their institution, like mine, isn’t large enough to offer more systematic methods of learning content in each major category of international education employment.
I’ll close by saying that my NAFSA Academy cohort collaborated together on several projects, including an international roundtable at my school’s Teaching and Learning Center, and on a Region V presentation that will happen this week.  Hope to see you there.

See for more information.

Derek Shouba is the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Morton College, a comprehensive community college located on in Cicero, Illinois.  Derek also serves on the Executive Board of the Illinois Consortium of International Studies and Programs (ICISP).  Derek, a Fulbright alum, is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and holds graduate degrees from McGill University, North Park University, and Roosevelt University.

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