Inside USD

Faculty Workshop Focuses on Internationalization of Curriculum

Friday, December 5, 2008

Clara Oberle is a first-year history professor at the University of San Diego, but she has the experience and desire to be an important commodity as the internationalization of the institution’s curriculum evolves. 

“I’m international in many ways,” said Oberle, whose teaching and research specialties include modern European, German, urban and international history. “I grew up in Germany. I’ve done research in Russia, Poland and France among other places. And I want my students to engage with different cultures in the course of their USD education and leave this place with a more international perspective.”

Oberle was one of 30 USD faculty members to complete an eight-hour workshop November 22 at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. The event, hosted by Associate Provost for Internationalization Carl Jubran and the International Center, concluded the annual International Education Week on campus. 

A Nov. 21 dinner in the Degheri Alumni Center gave Jubran, Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan and former College of Arts and Sciences Dean Patrick Drinan the chance to talk about what the university is doing to encourage more internationalization. 

“It’s a personal passion of mine,” Sullivan said. “When I came here there was already a strong foundation. It was in the air and in the culture. But we want to continue to build and provide it for faculty and students.” 

Drinan, who teaches international relations courses and has been at USD since 1981, discussed the university’s internationalization history, what’s in place now and what the future holds. He spoke of San Diego’s designation as the largest U.S. border city, the influence of Catholic tradition, the Sacred Heart Order and its French connection and Spain’s influence with its architectural imprint on campus buildings. He highlighted language class requirements, study abroad programs like Guadalajara, Mexico, and workshops that reach across the entire campus. He praised the formation of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and strongly believes that support for internationalization from faculty and administrators is “real and authentic.” He expressed hope for continuing faculty development in the internationalization process. 

“There has to be an axis of continuity here; if faculty are not engaged, nothing will happen,” Drinan said. At the conclusion of his speech, he reinforced his plea to faculty members that when it comes to internationalization and its future that they need to “own it and believe it.” 

Saturday’s workshop brought a cross-section of faculty together to discuss a multitude of subjects. Veteran faculty members such as Judy Liu (Sociology), Iris Engstrand (History), Susan Buczynski (SOLES) and Phil Hunsaker (Management, School of Business Administration) were there, alongside new professors such as Emily Reimer-Barry (Theology and Religion Studies), Tara Ceranic (Management, School of Business Administration) and Amanda Petersen (Languages and Literatures). 

Workshop highlights:

• Jim Skelly, a peace studies specialist from the University of Ulster in Derry, Ireland, spoke about a class he’s teaching that uses an online component that allows students from around the world to enroll. 

• Yvette Fontaine, director of International Students and Scholars in the International Center, said 356 international students and faculty from 68 different countries are on campus this fall. She spoke about global awareness and explained the difficulty some international students have adjusting to the U.S. and to the educational setting. 

• Informational sessions about faculty Fulbright teaching programs and International Opportunity Grants, up to $4,000 for USD faculty and staff, were presented. 

• Professors Rafik Mohamed and Carlton Floyd spoke about the popular service-learning summer program in Jamaica they created a few years ago. Mohamed, who has been at USD for 10 years, said he was inspired after participating in USD’s oldest international study abroad excursion, the Guadalajara Summer Program, in 2003. 

• Kira Espiritu, director of International Studies Abroad discussed the process and logistics for faculty submitting an undergraduate study abroad trip application and on collaboration possibilities. Assistant Director Jessica Luchesi talked about the six-week Guadalajara program, which had 250 students and 25 faculty members (15 from USD) participate in Summer 2008.

• Sister Virginia Rodee, assistant vice president for Mission and Ministry, and Economics professor Steve Conroy demonstrated the cross-pollination between internationalization and Catholic Social Thought. Rodee provided some background on CST and its goals and Conroy talked about the Economics 101 class he teaches that combines service projects with opportunities to visit diverse areas of Tijuana. 

• Participants examined international course design in breakout sessions run by Carole Huston, director of the Center for Education Excellence. Faculty members were divided into five groups to explore ways to help students think globally. 

Second-year sociology professor J.J. Schlichtman, said the workshop was helpful. He will attend a Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association Research Committee-21 conference in Tokyo, Japan. 

“It will be a great opportunity to educate myself and to make good international contacts,” he said. And, upon his return, what he learns in Japan will be passed on to his students.

For more information about international programs, go to

  • Share/Bookmark