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Antioch Engaged Abroad

 

Antioch College Lands Funding for “Antioch Engagement Abroad”
September 2018

Antioch College has secured funding for a new campus internationalization initiative called “Antioch Engagement Abroad.” The effort is funded through a grant from the Great Lake Colleges Association’s Global Crossroads International Innovation Fund, which itself is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Antioch Engagement Abroad calls for partnerships among faculty, students, colleagues on other campuses, and international collaborators who are willing to work together to build new models of “socially-engaged, cultural immersion programming.”  Emphasizing cross-cultural and transnational learning processes, the initiative’s pedagogical orientation encourages faculty and students to develop reflexive and reciprocal relationships with partners abroad while also engaging select high schools and community colleges in dialogue on international themes.

The idea is to develop a distinctive path to transnational engagement that leads students from exposure to global issues, through project-based learning on campus, to collective inquiry and collaborative research projects around the world. It then positions both faculty and students to play a role in public debates on a variety of international themes. It is also designed to broaden the impact of our efforts to internationalize the curriculum and significantly strengthen Antioch’s array of institutional partnerships around the world.

Specifically, the Antioch Engagement Abroad initiative comprises the following activities: (1) advance course and faculty development efforts in support of a new curricular focus on Global/Transnational Studies and Engagement, (2) involve faculty and students in strategic public outreach efforts, workshops, and symposia on international themes, (3) build collaborative partnerships with social and cultural actors abroad by launching a transnational exchange program in support of new Summer and Winter Block term programming, (4) expand immersive fieldwork opportunities by deepening Co-op and Language & Culture Program partnerships abroad, and (5) develop new faculty-led immersion programming abroad through collaboration with peer institutions in the GLAA as well as nonprofit and community organizations in strategic regions.

An overall objective is to involve students, faculty members and their partners in the construction of active learning models that emphasize dialogue, inquiry, and reflection as fundamental components of transnational engagement. Intentional efforts around emerging curricular focuses and established areas of practice will promote action-based and project-focused methodological approaches for student research; encourage an understanding of knowledge-acquisition processes through lived experience; and strengthen dialogical efforts to understand difference across national, social, cultural, and class divides.

The Antioch Engagement Abroad initiative is announced as the College launches its new curriculum in support of the All-Self-Designed Major paradigm. The new curriculum reflects the Antioch College faculty’s profound belief in student agency, its historic tradition of collaborative engagement off campus, and its commitment to undergraduate field research. Building upon new general education coursework on “Dialogue across Difference” and “Community Action,” students now have more opportunities to pursue ideas across cultural boundaries, immerse themselves in professional communities of practice, and forge shared investigative projects based on principles of collaborative learning, community outreach, and mutual aid.

Since the College’s independence, the primary vehicle for student engagement abroad at Antioch has been Antioch’s flagship Cooperative Education (Co-op) program, established by former President Arthur E. Morgan nearly a century ago. Co-op expands the boundaries of the liberal arts learning environment by fostering full-time work opportunities in a variety of settings both domestically and abroad. One of our most important goals is to position students for meaningful engagement with the world by helping them acquire the international and transnational competencies necessary to bridge geo-cultural divides. Over the last six years, the Co-op Program has approved over 1,150 co-op placements. Approximately 13% of co-op programming has been conducted overseas with students engaged in 36 countries.

In order to prepare for cross-cultural and transnational engagement, Antioch students are encouraged to complete three years of foreign language coursework. They are also asked to participate fully in our Languages and Cultures across the Curriculum Program, through which language acquisition and frequent practice are normalized across campus. Target languages currently include Spanish, French, and Japanese.

As a competency-based program, the Language and Culture Program gives students opportunities to increase their knowledge of foreign languages and to practice them in a variety of social contexts before going abroad. Our expectation is that those who have achieved the required competency levels after three years of language and culture study will be fully prepared to work, live, and engage with partners in their target languages. Students completing the three-year language track qualify for an international cultural immersion co-op during their junior and/or senior years.

Building on Antioch’s current international co-op and language immersion programming, this program is intended to thoroughly prepare students for transnational engagement then launch them into project-based, immersive fieldwork settings where they can utilize their foreign language skills and engage in collaborative research projects with community partners in various parts of the world.

Transnational engagement in this context means that students are expected to develop robust collaborative, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural capacities in order to participate in sustained engagement with others across national and cultural boundaries. Our faculty members are committed to developing the long-term relationships necessary to build reflexive epistemic communities, advance solution-oriented approaches to problems internationally, and promote student engagement abroad in ways that enable them to better understand the connections between structures of power, knowledge creation, and problem solving.

Antioch Engagement Abroad will help Antioch students prepare themselves to lead meaningful and impactful lives that will affect individuals and communities around the world in positive ways. Beyond the deep content knowledge that has always been central to Antioch’s rigorous liberal arts approach, students need to develop robust communications skills, establish credibility within communities of practice, nurture their ability to listen to and understand others in unfamiliar contexts, and acquire the ability to work with people across cultural divides. Most importantly, they need to gain experience putting ideas into action in order to confront the problems that are threatening the wellbeing of the current generation of young people globally.