International Education Week

Published: November 9th, 2000

Category: Memos

Dennis Jett, Dean of the International Center

To call attention to the importance of international education, November 13-17 has been designated for the first time International Education Week. In announcing this event, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley said, “I strongly believe that the growth of democracy, economic prosperity and economic stability throughout the world is linked to the advance of education.” He added: “This is one of the strongest reasons why the United States should have an active and strong international education agenda.” International Education Week presents a timely opportunity to reflect on the need for Americans to become more globally competent. The U.S. continues to lag behind the rest of the developed world both in our support for international education and in preparing our graduates for an increasingly globalized world. To remain competitive in the global marketplace, maintain national security, and continue leadership in world affairs, a stronger focus on international education is critical.

If that is to happen, UF and other leading educational institutions must ensure their students have the knowledge and skills needed to function in a global workplace. This requires broadening their understanding of the rest of the world and its cultures, learning to communicate in other languages, developing the know-how to conduct business effectively in other countries, and improving intercultural skills in our own increasingly diverse country.

To produce the international experts and knowledge to meet national strategic needs in a less predictable, post-Cold War world, a number of traditional programs must be expanded and new ones created. These include internationalizing the curriculum across the board, expanding the study of foreign languages, improving the opportunities for international research in the U.S. and abroad, increasing foreign student and scholar exchanges, and training more business students to work in the global marketplace. More students, regardless of economic circumstances, should study or intern in a foreign country, and the diversity of U.S. students preparing for international fields should be increased. Employing technologies, like distance education, must play a part in the goals outlined above.

Success in meeting this challenge will require partnerships among education institutions, government, and the corporate sector. Collaboration from all the various parts of the UF community will also be essential, as well as having these efforts driven by faculty interest and the support of UF’s leadership at all levels. The International Center is here to help make that happen. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with each college and department to discuss how we can do that together. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.

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