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Fostering International Leadership

Elisabeth Hughes

Executive Ed.D. students experienced higher education in a global context in June when the program’s second cohort undertook an intensive one-week seminar in Haarlem, the Netherlands, organized by the faculty of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente. The seminar focused on the reform of higher education in the 47 European countries that have signed up as members of the Bologna Process.

Students learned that the Bologna Process was “Europe’s response to globalization” and the need to promote mobility for students and faculty, set qualification frameworks, and implement quality assurance across European higher education institutions. David Snow, an assistant professor at the National Defense University, summed up how valuable the trip had been, “Our future successes depend greatly on our capability to adapt in an ever-changing environment, one in which it is vital to understand the role of higher education in a global context.” For Julie Staggs, a senior consultant at STAMATS, “The trip was invaluable as a professional development experience”.

Seminar topics included research policy, governance, higher education systems, funding, and the changing academic profession in Europe.

Students spent a day at the University of Leiden, one of Europe’s foremost research universities and the oldest university in the Netherlands, founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange. They also tested their leadership skills by participating in simulation games that required setting up a higher education system in an imaginary country and leading and managing a European university. The trip also included a tour of the province of North Holland, canal trips in Amsterdam and Haarlem, and time off to enjoy the museums, flower markets, and the outdoor cafes, as well as lessons in dodging the ever-present bicycles. On their return to the U.S., students gave group presentations comparing the higher education systems in the U.S. and Europe.

Kerr Ramsay, associate director of admissions at Emory University Candler School of Theology, pointed out that “Working in higher education, it is easy to believe the schools and communities in which we live are normative. Trips like this are critical to helping students understand the variety of ways in which educators around the world approach the task of imparting knowledge.”

For Ginger Durham from the USG’s board of regents, “it was an exceptional learning experience that will continue to inform my understanding of both foreign and U.S. education policy.”

“The international curriculum is what makes the IHE’s program distinctive” according to Linda Bachman, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences assistant dean for college relations at UGA. “It was fascinating to hear from leading European scholars, university administrators, and doctoral students about the pressing issues facing European higher education. They have arrived, via extraordinarily diverse routes, at many of the same challenges we are confronting in U.S. higher education. We have much to learn from their example, even as they strive to adapt aspects of our system to theirs.”

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