Zhanna Korotkikh

Internationalizing Education In Barnaul State Pedagogical University

    Many scholars admit that the late 1960s and the early 1970s might well be characterized as that period when, in a figurative sense, the world began to shrink and gradually turned into a global village. A combination of increased mobility, modern communication technology, and an awareness of common worldwide problems, seemed to reduce radically the time-space relationships between different cultures. The issues of international interdependence became very acute.
    However, it was only in the late 1980s that people in Barnaul (south-west Siberia, Russia) witnessed the first manifestations of perestroika, which led to an astounding openness of the country. It was at that time that the faculty and administration of Barnaul State pedagogical institute (the then name of the University) began to think seriously about the integration into international higher educational process. Today we can state that the BSPU has passed a long way to the internationalization and globalization of education.
    Speaking about internationalization of higher education, we should consider several key elements of globally oriented approaches and programs that are being developed at our University. They are: study abroad, working abroad, doing research abroad, joint research with foreign colleagues, foreign students, visiting foreign teachers, the internationalization of the curriculum, globally-oriented teaching and learning materials, overcoming scholarly ethnocentrism, international conferences and seminars, the internationalization of extra-curriculum activities, wider access to the Internet.

  1. Study abroad. There are two options for BSPU undergraduate and graduate students to study abroad: 1) to participate in highly competitive programs sponsored by foreign agencies and organizations, or 2) to go to a foreign university as a member of a student-teacher exchange group. As for the first option, a great number of students take part in competitions but very few succeed. Nevertheless, the failure does not discourage them, and try again and again. The desire to win makes them work hard at the language: they develop their listening comprehension skills, review the grammar, write a lot of essays, take TOEFL, GMAT and other exams. Thus, they become more motivated in learning foreign languages (English and German).
  2. Working abroad. As our University is a teacher-training institution, the most valuable program for both undergraduate and graduate students is the program offered by the United States Camp Counselor Association (USCCA). The candidates are selected to work as camp counselors in American summer camps to see how the things are done there, and, later, to share their knowledge and skills with Russian professional colleagues.
  3. Doing research abroad. This mainly concerns graduate students and faculty. The results of the research done abroad are hard to overestimate: new courses are developed, the existing courses are modernized, new ideas and concepts become the topics for discussion at various conferences and seminars. Thus, not only the researchers themselves, but also the University benefits as well, as the quality of education rises considerably.
  4. Foreign students. Every year the BSPU hosts students from Germany, Switzerland, the United States, China, and other countries. Many of them stay in students homes, which gives our students and their families first-hand experience in intercultural communication.
  5. Visiting foreign teachers. The BSPU welcomes foreign teachers as they open new dimensions, offer new approaches, introduce new atmosphere into classroom. They help the students think globally
  6. Internationalization of the curriculum. There are some courses (international studies, area studies, etc.) that are specifically devoted to examining international or global issues. In other courses (literary criticism, historiography, environmental science, etc.) teachers also try to transcend all nationally and geographically limited, and limiting frames of reference. Some disciplines (archaeology, linguistics, entomology, and a number of comparative specialties in the social sciences and humanities) extend their knowledge bases in direct proportion to their access to new materials. Highly abstract field such as physics, mathematics and computer science are not clearly transnational or global in focus. Yet understanding even in this disciplines advances as teachers come into contact with the work of colleagues in other countries. Besides, there is a tendency today to introduce into the curriculum new globally oriented courses, such as intercultural communication, global marketing, etc.
  7. Overcoming scholarly ethnocentrism. Some faculty members are often unwilling to address comparative issues in their courses. Overcoming scholarly ethnocentrism means to ask new questions and formulate old ones, collect data from new and possibly diverse sources.
  8. Globally oriented teaching and learning materials. The policy of the BSPU administration is to encourage the faculty members to use internationally acknowledged textbooks and multi-media courses; as well as to develop their own globally oriented teaching and learning materials. Besides, the access to satellite TV programs and worldwide computer networks contributes greatly to the internationalization of education in BSPU.
  9. International conferences and seminars. Various international conferences and seminars are held annually in BSPU, giving the opportunity to both the faculty and the students to exchange their views with foreign colleagues, to see new perspectives in their research, and sometimes even to start joint research.
  10. Extra-curriculum activities. Encouraging and supporting various forms of globally oriented extra-curriculum activities (clubs, debating groups, theatricals, video centers, etc.) the University administration tries to help the students become more politically and socially active and creative. The students learn how to understand different cultures and be tolerant to ethnic and cultural differences. The participation of international students in these activities makes it even more beneficial for the Russian students.

    In conclusion, I would like to note that Universities today cannot afford neglecting the process of internationalization and globalization of higher education if they want to survive. To meet the students' demands today means to develop all existing programs as well as to introduce new aspects of globalization in educational process.

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