CECH Continues to Expand Its International Partnerships

UC students with South Korean students

Sport Administration students in a South Korean stadium

You don’t have to look far to see the benefits of international partnerships. Whether the partnerships focus on international projects, study abroad opportunities, or research collaborations, students and faculty members immerse themselves in foreign cultures to gain new insights about our increasingly interconnected world.   

From understanding the similarities and differences of doing business in foreign lands, to gaining first-hand experience in implementing community outreach, students in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) are gaining international perspectives and experience.

According to the UC International Office, during the 2012-2013 academic year CECH saw a 92 percent increase in the number of students pursuing international opportunities, compared to 2011-2012. Similarly, CECH faculty members have made international pursuits a priority by developing a range of opportunities and partnerships, whether formal institutional agreements or collaborations.

“International pursuits align with the UC2019 Academic Master Plan, and I think international opportunities will remain a priority in the vision that will be mapped out with UC’s Third Century,” said Holly Johnson, associate dean for innovation and opportunity, who leads CECH’s focus on international partnerships. “CECH has information to share with the rest of the world. Creating partnerships is the best way to make those connections and share our expertise.”  

The UC Academic Master Plan established a goal for 100 percent of UC’s undergraduates to participate in experiential learning, such as service learning or study abroad. Reflecting the Master Plan, all undergraduate CECH students are encouraged and expected to take what they learn beyond the classroom by completing internships, co-ops, field placements, or study abroad trips. 

Upholding CECH’s commitment to constant improvement, innovation, and providing an environment where students and faculty thrive, Johnson and CECH have set a goal for each of its schools (Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Information Technology) to offer one or two signature international programs or experiences.

UC students in South Korea

Students studying together in a South Korean classroom

“The experiences should be thoughtful ones that increase academic and cultural knowledge,” Johnson said.

Part of an ever expanding list, CECH has much to offer international partners, including program development, faculty expertise in unique subject areas, and curriculum development with a focus on student-centered learning.

Johnson noted that partners, whether domestic or international, help expand our vision of the world and can produce long-lasting benefits in the ways that individuals view the world and appreciate others’ differences.

“Travel challenges our views and perceptions, prompting us to progress beyond our own boundaries and borders,” Johnson said. “Having an understanding of other cultures, societies, value systems, and ways of conducting business is important.”

CECH has international partnerships and programs with numerous institutions, including Salahaddin University-Hawler in Iraq, Atılım University in Turkey, the Ministry of Health in Belize, Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, and Chonbuk National University in South Korea. Additional partnerships are also in the works.

With Salahaddin University-Hawler, CECH is developing course materials and workshops to support professionals in higher education as well as community leaders in Iraq. The program is administered through the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as the U.S. continues efforts to rebuild Iraq’s educational system and economy.

In another part of the world, Mary Benedetti, professor and director of the Center for English as a Second Language, brings a group of masters or doctoral students (primarily students in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program) to Czech Republic annually to help them understand the challenges of being “an outsider” and experience the linguistic and educational shock many immigrant students face when moving to the U.S. Students also learn about Central Europe’s education systems, explore how history and culture affect ways of teaching, and visit cultural attractions in Prague, Vienna, Brno, and the South Moravian wine region.  

“My goal is for students to be dependent on the locals, both in terms of language and getting around,” Benedetti said. “Being in a foreign country, students realize they are no longer a part of the dominant culture, and for the vast majority of students that’s the first time they experience that. Then, they have a better understanding of what it’s like to be an outsider. It’s one thing to know that intellectually, but it’s another to know that on a more fundamental level.”

For anyone in the field of education, especially with cultural, linguistic, and social class differences, that understanding can be important for successful teaching. 

“To be dependent on people who students would normally perceive as immigrants in their home culture is critically important for the development of their cultural sensitivity and competence” Benedetti added.

students in South Korea

Students on a study abroad trip to South Korea

Benedetti has had a long-lasting, invaluable partnership with Masaryk University in the Czech Republic for nearly two decades, enabling collaborative research projects, publications, and study abroad trips.

Benedetti’s annual study abroad trip coincides with Masaryk University’s pre-and in-service teachers’ intensive culminating experience, where they work with UC students and exchange ideas and experiences with a community of practitioners and researchers at Masaryk University. 

Some students who attend Benedetti’s trip end up returning to Europe or move to other parts of the world to teach or become program directors.

In yet another corner of the world, Brody Ruihley, professor of sport administration, has taken undergraduate sport administration students on a study abroad trip to South Korea (see photos). Gaining first-hand experience with global sport organizations in their specific fields of interest, UC students learn and evaluate how sport is different abroad. 

“The world of sport is global,” Ruihley said. “By seeing the world through a different lens, students learn about the similarities and differences of the sport industry. Also, the U.S. sport system is more progressed than South Korea’s, so they can anticipate the areas in which challenges will occur and learn from us.”

Working with Chonbuk National University, Ruihley has collaborated on research projects, collected data at two professional baseball sites in South Korea, and is developing initiatives from which faculty and students can benefit. Last year, Ruihley gave a guest lecture at the University on global sport ethics. 

“The rewards of international partnerships can be outstanding; the UC International Office and Anne Sheridan Fugard have done an excellent job helping faculty,” Ruihley added.

Students agree that the experiences often beget many benefits. Sarah Hulsman, BS ’15, who attended Ruihley’s trip to South Korea, notes the lasting relationships that she’s created with faculty and students alike.

“I’ve learned so much from the conversations that we had with our host professor, translator, and the students,” said Hulsman. “I am still in communication with the individuals I met while on the trip. Being able to interact with them in-person and discuss South Korea’s sport culture was so much more meaningful than just reading an article or book about it in a class.”

Hulsman also added that view sporting events in a foreign country challenged her to think critically about the U.S. fan experience.

“The experiences that I had while at a soccer and baseball game in South Korea made me rethink the systems and processes that we have in the U.S.,” she said. “We can learn a lot from other cultures to enhance our own sporting event experiences.”

Sport administration students also have the opportunity to study abroad in Europe with Professor and Coordinator of the Sport Administration Program Robert Brinkmeyer. This May, his trip will take students inside the European Model of Club Sports in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Ireland.

“This experience is as much cultural as it is sport related,” Brinkmeyer said. “With nearly all business organizations today being global, it’s imperative that our students understand the global landscape.”

While on international ventures, students and faculty alike not only learn about new cultures but also reflect on their values, culture, and ways in which they can impact the community.

“I encourage faculty and students to do as many international trips as they can,” Johnson said. “These experiences help us think critically and challenge our views of the world.”

For more information about CECH’s many partners, visit http://cech.uc.edu/externalrelations.html.