While one of our main strategic goals at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is to strengthen ‘āina- and community-based curriculum and programs that anchor students’ learning experiences here at home, we also are tasked with connecting our haumana to the outside world to prepare them to be active citizens and professionals in increasingly interdependent global communities and economies.

To achieve this goal, we are working on several fronts that include both students and faculty.

Director of Global Exchange Todd Shumway and Director of Global Education Carolina Lam, at UH Hilo’s Center for Global Education and Exchange, are working closely with faculty to develop ways to encourage and increase students’ participation in international study programs. Directors Shumway and Lam are each heading a committee of faculty dedicated to achieving this goal.

One committee is working on creating more opportunities for Global Vulcan Alumni (students who have studied abroad) to share their experiences with current students to inspire and support those students planning to go abroad. This includes former study abroad alumni who are from Hawai‘i Island returning to their high school alma mater to talk about their international journey and encourage more students to attend UH Hilo and take advantage of international study opportunities.

In tandem with this, a multimedia marketing campaign is under development in conjunction with general campus recruitment to seek out potential students who may be inspired to attend the university specifically because of the opportunities we offer for international study and exchange.

The committee is also working with faculty on ways our professors and instructors can make use of university and personal partnerships to globalize their classrooms. Faculty are in the best of positions to create enthusiasm in their students to pursue study abroad and can also then use their expertise to advise those students on course selection and transfer credits.

The second committee is working on online resources.

One website is under development to provide faculty with access to resources about collaborative online international learning, commonly called COIL, in the classroom. COIL is an instructional tool used by many universities in the United States and worldwide to encourage online collaboration between international partners and would bring voices from other countries and cultures into our classrooms.

Another website will assist our faculty in finding international experts who would like to connect with our campus as visiting scholars. This online guide will provide faculty with information on steps to follow and available resources to bring international colleagues to UH Hilo for research or team teaching, as well as provide info about funding for collaborative curriculum and professional development in support of this work.

UH Hilo is uniquely positioned to instill in our students not only the importance of being ‘āina- and community-based in their educational aspirations, but also the importance of knowing how to connect to international resources. I’m excited to see these UH Hilo projects strengthen and support our international and domestic study away programs.

With aloha,

Bonnie D. Irwin