Institute of International Education recognizes Southern program

Craig Jones

For the third time since its inception, the efforts of the Institute of International Studies have been recognized with an award of national significance.

Presented on Jan. 27 by the Institute of International Education, the second annual Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education recognized 10 U.S. campuses for outstanding international initiatives.

Other institutions recognized included Carnegie Mellon University, Colorado State University and California State University-San Bernadino.

Southern was awarded honorable mention in the category “Internationalizing the Campus” for its international theme semesters.

“It’s a very prestigious award,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies. “The spotlight is on Missouri Southern again.”

Stebbins said it is the third such award for Southern’s efforts to implement the College’s international mission.

In October 2000, Southern was selected along with seven other schools by the American Council on Education as a model for international education programs. Southern was also one of four institutions in the United States to receive a Certificate of Excellence for the 2001 Theodore Hesburgh Award for Faculty Development to Enhance Undergraduate Teaching and Learning.

“It’s a confirmation that what we’re doing in the area of international education is valuable, that it’s right for our students,” said College President Julio León.

“In the area of international education, Missouri Southern is becoming a leader in the country.”

He said program innovation and implementation is easier on a small campus like Southern’s.

“Everybody seems to get into the act and tries to find ways in which they can adapt their programs or activities,” León said.

“It contributes to this idea of ‘pervasiveness.’ When everybody in the boat is rowing in the same direction, the boat moves faster and with purpose.”

Stebbins said the events of the theme semesters are designed to expose students, faculty and the community to diverse elements of unfamiliar cultures.

“We hope that people have a natural curiosity to learn about these other cultures that they can’t experience firsthand in Southwest Missouri,” Stebbins said.

“One of the main reasons behind the theme semesters is that we realize that not all of our students are going to be able to travel abroad. We try to bring the world to them through the theme semester.”

The program began in the fall of 1997 with the China Semester. Subsequent emphases of the following theme semesters included Africa, Latin America, Japan and India.

The Institute of International Studies recently announced the fall 2003 semester will be designated the Cuba Semester.

Stebbins said Cuba is significant not only because of its proximity to the United States, but because it has been ruled by the same communist regime for 44 years and is on the verge of dramatic change.

“The vast majority of Americans have never visited Cuba,” Stebbins said. “It’s a very mysterious country.”