Three Tusculum College professors recently returned from Salzburg, Austria, ready to move forward with several elements of the college’s international program and prepared to initiate research on some additional elements of that program.
Dr. Geir Bergvin, director of the Center for Global Studies and associate professor of marketing; Dr. Joel Van Amberg, assistant professor of history, and Dr. DiAnn Casteel, associate professor of education, returned in February from the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria, to participate in an international curriculum development program through a Mellon Fellowship grant program.
“The colleges participating in the program are in a wide range of development of their international programs,” said Bergvin, “And, we found that there was tremendous value in learning about some of the challenges they have encountered along the way.”
Bergvin has been leading the charge to expand international opportunities at the Tusculum College campus since the college declared it a major strategic initiative to increase the number of students who participate in international travel experiences and to internationalize the curriculum to better prepare students for the 21st Century.
One major item under discussion for Tusculum College is reinstituting a formal language program for its students.
”We are researching a variety of alternatives,” said Bergvin, including partnering with another school in order to offer language courses not currently in the Tusculum College catalog. In addition, Bergvin is hoping that Tusculum will be a pilot school for such a program through an initiative of the Appalachian Colleges Association.
Van Amberg, who has traveled extensively both personally and through his role at the College, said that this seminar allowed the group to see how other colleges are facing budgeting issues and learning how they are moving their programs forward, despite the difficult economic climate.
“Our desire is not to destroy the momentum of the program,” he said. “It is helpful for all of us to be aware of similar situations and see how other institutions are pushing forward.”
“Our time in Salzburg provided an opportunity to interact with others that had similar plans for their students. We were able learn from their experiences, which in turn strengthens our own program. Facilitating international travel for students in our residential and Graduate and Professional Studies programs will bring a new dimension to experiences offered by Tusculum College,” said Casteel.
However, one area where the Tusculum College representatives felt their program was stronger than most was the support and commitment shown by the institution to develop the program.
“We are very fortunate for the support of the Center for Global Studies and its programs. We have received a lot of support from the faculty and the administration of Tusculum College,” said Bergvin.
He added that in addition to strengthening the language program, a second goal of the program is building partnerships with institutions in other countries.
“We have had very positive feedback from institutions in England, Spain and Costa Rica,” said Bergvin.
In the meantime, Tusculum’s international program has begun to see success on campus as more students are inquiring about international travel and study abroad opportunities.
“There seems to be an awakening of the student body,” he added. “It’s very exciting. Something is happening and it is encouraging. That interest has not been there in the past.”