UAlberta lifts international learning to new heights

(Edmonton) Giving students a global experience during their time at the University of Alberta will have a renewed focus this fall thanks to some newly launched international initiatives.

University of Alberta International is working in partnership with various campus stakeholders to boost the number of students going abroad and to enrich the global perspective on campus, including a new certificate in international learning that recognizes the efforts of globally minded undergrads.

“We really want students to know that learning and the student experience shouldn’t be limited by the boundaries of our campuses,” says Britta Baron, vice-provost and associate vice-president (international). “The University of Alberta community spans around the world—through alumni, faculty connections and research collaborations—and students should take full advantage of international learning opportunities and this connectedness.”

“Studies have shown that international learning and going abroad not only gives students a broader understanding of global issues, but also better prepares them for their future careers. They acquire cross-cultural expertise, gain new academic perspectives and develop real-world skills, especially through internships and work placement programs. These skills are increasingly sought after by employers. It’s a way for students to stand out when they graduate—but the time to act is now.”

Although the U of A offers more than 250 study-abroad programs in 40+ countries—from exchanges in China and the Ukraine to internships in Brazil and Germany—only 14 per cent of undergraduates have studied or worked abroad by the time they graduate. The institutional goal is to push participation towards 20 per cent by 2015.

“We’re putting education abroad at an elevated level. I want the U of A to be the place in Canada for students to find meaningful opportunities for education abroad,” says Baron.

“Our goal is to help all our students—both Canadian and international—to develop intercultural and international competence, giving them a better start into a global career.”

Certificate in International Learning

The Certificate in International Learning is a new academic credential for undergraduate students that recognizes international achievements such as studying or working abroad, training in intercultural communication and living in the International House residence.

The certificate involves U of A coursework with a global focus, international experiences or cross-training, plus a reflective capstone project.

Undergraduate students in any faculty may enrol in the embedded certificate—meaning students earn the certificate and their undergraduate degree at the same time.

Students normally enrol within the first two years of their undergraduate degree, but the certificate will be offered to students starting their third and fourth year this fall.

Bigger, better Go Abroad Fair

University of Alberta International is hosting a bigger and better Go Abroad Fair Sept. 25 from noon to 7 p.m. The trade-show-style event has moved to a larger venue in Lister Centre (from the Students’ Union Building) and has been opened up to the general public, including students from other Campus Alberta post-secondary institutions and Alberta high schools.

More than 50 exhibitors—including U of A departments, external organizations and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade—will showcase opportunities to study, work or volunteer abroad.

Expanding innovative programs

The U of A is also expanding locations for its e3 education abroad summer program—a “mix-and-match” model that offers students up to three experiences in one location.

Initially delivered in summer 2013, e3 in Berlin allowed students to explore the cultural and political dimensions of Germany through three program components: German language study, a work or research internship placement, and an academic course.

Twenty-two students from various faculties participated in e3 in Berlin. Students were placed at some of Germany’s leading cultural and political organizations, and even had impromptu opportunities to meet top decision-makers in the EU and Germany, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A new offering is set for summer 2014—e3 in Brazil, delivered in Curitiba. Undergraduate students from all faculties will have the chance to explore the social and political impact of sports and large-scale athletic events, just as Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup and prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics.