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SHSU Developing Global Perspectives

"To be successful, our students must develop an understanding of what the world is like and an understanding of the sociological differences that exist from one country to another."

SHSU President
It's old news to those who follow headlines, dabble in the stock market or spend a little time browsing the web -- the world isn't shrinking, it has shrunk. The economies of nations are intertwined, political turmoil and natural disasters impact the entire global community, and cultures collide and mingle daily in the borderless realm of cyberspace.

This ever-increasing global interdependence is the catalyst behind Sam Houston State University's current push to internationalize university curriculum.

"Today we operate in a world market," said Bobby K. Marks, SHSU president and instigator of the internationalization venture. "To be successful, our students must develop an understanding of what the world is like and an understanding of the sociological differences that exist from one country to another."

To help realize Mark's vision, the university tapped Charles Stowe, a general business and finance professor, to head its new Office of International Programs. Stowe's official charge is to coordinate and facilitate international academic efforts and to integrate such activities throughout the university community. In his own simpler terms, he is more a "cheerleader" than a czar, responsible for rallying faculty and staff support and participation in SHSU's efforts to adopt an international perspective.

"Globalization has touched every aspect of human existence," said Stowe. "Whereas in the past, it was limited to diplomats, a few bigwig business travelers and multimillionaire tourists, the global experience is now as close as the nearest computer." Since taking charge of SHSU's international programs, Stowe has identified four specific areas through which the university's international focus can be enhanced:

  • Facilitating student travel abroad through exchange programs, field schools and course-enhancing field trips;
  • Expanding faculty opportunities for research and professional communications abroad;
  • Internationalizing routine classroom presentations; and
  • Recruiting, nurturing and utilizing SHSU's own foreign student population.

"The whole point of education is to equip people with tools to help them deal with and be successful in life," said Stowe. "With this international effort, we hope to fulfill our obligation to students by giving them the benefits of a global perspective. We want SHSU graduates to be aware of and have a little higher consciousness of the interrelatedness of the world."

In his December 1997 commencement address at SHSU, Bill Franklin, head of the Texas International Education Consortium, told graduates, "You can make a vow to yourself to do whatever it takes to be a knowledgeable and active citizen of the world, or you can watch the world change around you, rendering you a mere spectator that will one day no longer know the rules of the game."

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Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing
Sept. 24, 1998
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