Global Programs - Strategic Plan 2014-2019

The last strategic planning cycle (2009-2014) launched the building of the Global Penn State - promoting global citizenship for our students and global leadership for the University in scholarship and international engagement. At that time, the University adopted a three-sided-coin approach as its enabling framework:

  • Go (sending students abroad)
  • Come (bringing international students and scholars to Penn State)
  • Partner (building strategic partnerships around the world)

The Plan also designated the Office of Global Programs as the locus of all Penn State’s international engagements; it assigned leadership and oversight responsibilities for these engagements to the Vice Provost for Global Programs.

Much progress was made during this period towards the goal of realizing Penn State’s potential as a global University. Penn State currently sends more than 2,500 students abroad to more than 50 countries every year. This is a 27% increase over the past five years. The total number of international students enrolled at Penn State now stands at 7,300 from more than 100 countries, an increase of 83% over the last five years. This growth has been largely at the undergraduate level, which has grown by 199% over the past few years. Since 2007, we have seen a 43% increase in visiting international scholars and we have built strong global partnerships through the Global Engagement Network (GEN).

The new strategic plan for the period 2014-2019 has three primary goals:

  1. Make GEN the hallmark of Penn State’s global engagement. Two major initiatives will be launched. These are: develop thematic GEN around some of the global challenges of our time in order to transform our bilateral partnerships into a truly global network; establish joint centers for collaborative international engagement at some of our strategic partners around the world—providing an ongoing and long-term Penn State presence. We will utilize these thematic networks to develop large-scale and long-term research, educational and outreach programs that advance our understanding of global scale processes and challenges, while making significant contributions to their regional solutions. These thematic networks leverage our strengths in interdisciplinary research and have the potential to transform Higher Education into a vehicle for addressing major global problems. In addition, we will adopt the GEN philosophy and leverage GEN activities, to increase education-abroad participation, diversify locations and diversify participants. The joint centers will also promote recruitment of more diversified international students and scholars.
  2. Incentivize broad faculty involvement in global engagement. The Penn State faculty must be at the core of any strategy to advance the University’s global engagement. Through research and teaching and curricula integration, they play a critical role in promoting global citizenship for our students and leadership for Penn State in scholarship and international engagement. A significant element in this strategic plan is devoted to promoting the broad faculty engagement that is critical to our success through programs that integrate international engagement into the reward and recognition system and providing financial and support resources that encourage internationalization in research, education and outreach.
  3. Develop an effective operations support infrastructure for global engagement. Our third goal is to provide an infrastructure that will support the entire University in extending its teaching, research, and service to the global community. The scope, size, and efficiency of Global Programs activities have increased considerably over the past seven years. We will enhance these support services in the future by introducing programs that build strong staff support, enhance our risk management operations, promote sustainability and enhance diversity.

I. Foundation for Building the Global Penn State

Transforming Penn State into a truly global University requires a fundamental integration of global perspectives across the entire University community—faculty, staff and students—and in all components of the University’s mission of teaching, research and service.

Vision: Penn State will be a world leader in scholarship and international engagement.

Mission: The mission of the Office of Global Programs is to partner with Colleges and Campuses to facilitate Penn State's ascension to global leadership in scholarship and international engagement by serving as the primary locus for all international activities.

Leadership and Mandate: The building of the Global Penn State is the responsibility of all members of the Penn State Community - students, staff, faculty, and administrators. Leadership of this strategic goal - and the rewards of achieving it - will be shared primarily by the Academic Leadership Council and the Vice Provost for Global Programs. Global Programs will serve as the coordinating entity of all Penn State’s global engagements. Partnership across the University is the only way to ensure success.

Architecture: Building the Global Penn State uses the Global Engagement Network (GEN) as the primary architecture. Its two main pillars are global citizenship for students, faculty and staff and global leadership in scholarship and international engagement. This approach has three distinct, but interwoven elements: building global competency by sending students, faculty and staff abroad; internationalizing the university by bringing international students and scholars to our campuses; and establishing a global network of regional partnerships that enables the University to pursue its tripartite mission of teaching, research, and service on the global stage.

The Global Engagement Network (GEN): The GEN approach was developed over the last planning cycle and focused on building strong regional partnerships across the globe. GEN partner institutions fall into two categories. The first are long-term, multi-faceted strategic partnerships with peer universities that serve as the locus for a significant portion of Penn State’s undertakings in a given region and have the potential to engage a diverse range of faculty, staff and students across all colleges and campuses of the university. The second are more targeted partnerships with academic, governmental, non-governmental, and private sector entities around specific projects or themes. While the relationship with the primary GEN partners is long-term, involving multiple educational and research programs that may evolve over time, the targeted partnerships tend to be project-based, of more limited scope, and potentially shorter in duration.

Using the bilateral partnerships as a foundation, our core strategy over the next planning cycle is to link subsets of these strategic partners together in thematic networks to address major global challenges such as global health; migration and urbanization; climate change; energy, food and water security; and sustainability. By mobilizing the internal resources of each partner institution, as well as seeking significant extramural funding, these thematic networks will develop large-scale and long-term research endeavors, as well as educational and outreach programs that advance our understanding of global-scale processes and challenges, while making significant contributions to regional solutions and policy infrastructure. The expectation is that this global network will continuously leverage the combined intellectual resources of its member to effectively analyze and resolve complex problems.

These thematic networks will take advantage of the University’s previous and on-going investments in interdisciplinary research, particularly as epitomized by Penn State’s Institutes, and address new University goals in health and sustainability.  They will provide opportunities for student engagement, provide the teamwork, leadership, problem solving and multicultural skills necessary for student success; they will help to promote academic excellence; they will help to steward and leverage resources; and they will foster a fundamental change in higher education's approach to tackling complex societal problems and advance human welfare on all scales from local to global.

Designed to vigorously promote global engagements, GEN is anchored on the following core principles:

  • Partnership, collaboration, and mutual leveraging of institutional/intellectual capital.
  • Cross-cutting across the tripartite mission of the University and Penn State community.
  • Embraces diversity through multidisciplinary/multicultural approach to knowledge creation.
  • Transformative and holds at its essence the University motto of Making Life Better.

This GEN philosophy underscores the three overarching goals for accelerating the building the Global Penn State, which began during the last strategic planning cycle:

  1. Make the Global Engagement Network the hallmark of Penn State’s global engagement;
  2. Incentivize broad faculty (heart of academic enterprise) involvement in global engagement;
  3. Develop an effective Operations support infrastructure for enabling global engagement.

II. Strategies and Goals for Global Engagement

Goal #1: Make the Global Engagement Network the hallmark of Penn State’s global engagement.

1.1  Build a vibrant Global Engagement Network
This network will promote seamless integration of global dimensions in research, teaching and service into our faculty's creative processes. The strong interactions among faculty, students and staff with our GEN partners facilitate the mobility and sharing of human and intellectual resources, leading to the leveraging of the creative resources of all concerned. Two critical initiatives for 2014-2019 are to: 1) transform our bilateral partnerships into a truly global network through a thematic approach that focuses on major global challenges; and 2) establish Joint Centers for Collaborative Engagement with select partners in various regions.
1.1.1  Establish thematic networks aligned with major global challenges.
Building on the success of the inaugural GEN Global Health Workshop in May 2014, subsets of our strategic GEN partners will be linked together in thematic networks to develop large-scale and long-term research, educational and outreach programs that advance our understanding of global scale processes and challenges, while making significant contributions to their regional solutions. These Thematic Networks will transform Higher Education into a vehicle for addressing major global challenges. They will enable the integration of research, teaching and service in ways that promote global competency and global citizenship among the GEN community—faculty, staff and students. In addition, we will use these networks to build Higher Education capacity in less well-resourced regions and in institutions that are less well connected with the global community.
1.1.2  Joint Centers for Collaborative Engagement.
Joint collaborative centers, strategically located around the world, will provide an ongoing and long-term Penn State presence at partner institutions, and a source of support and enrichment programs for our faculty and students. They will play a significant role in diversifying international students’ recruitment opportunities beyond the traditional region (Asia). They will also support our quest to diversify study-abroad destinations for our students.
These Centers will perform numerous functions, the most salient of which are:

  • Facilitate faculty interactions and engagements among the partner institutions;

  • Facilitate acquisition of  local knowledge and logistical support for faculty, staff and students;

  • Serve as regional hubs for recruiting international students;  

  • Provide a resource for cultivating and supporting alumni in the regions.

Initial locations include the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (Burkina Faso), The University of Pune (India) and the University of Freiburg (Germany). Possible sites for future centers include the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and two of our partners in Central and South America.
1.2  Apply a GEN-like Approach to Education-Abroad

This approach will produce a nimble, focused, and effective portfolio of strategically-diverse, transformative study-abroad programs. This will be accomplished in partnership with the academic units—Departments, Colleges, and Campuses—and University offices such as Student Affairs, to both leverage resources and promote faculty and student participation. We will address this goal through three new initiatives described below.
1.2.1  Incentivize a cluster of enriching, transformative, and integrated semester-long education abroad experiences for an interdisciplinary pool of students who would combine research-enabled knowledge acquisition with community-engaged service-learning.
1.2.2  Increase access and diversify student enrollment in education abroad programs that will prepare students for global citizenship and that are academically integrated into students’ curricula.
1.2.3  Expand services to support a wide variety of programs, designed to broaden the definition of education abroad “experiences’ to include international internships, independent research, non-credit international service, and student organizations and athletic teams’ trips abroad.
In each case, we will utilize our strategic partnerships, the GEN thematic networks, and the joint collaborative centers to facilitate programs that meet the University’s objectives for global citizenship and student engagement, while meeting academic units’ specific needs for global competency within the discipline.
1.3  Support recruitment of and programming for a diverse international student/ scholar populations.
International students and scholars enhance cultural diversity on our campuses, provide alternative perspectives on knowledge and understanding, and contribute significantly to building a global culture; invariably their presence and engagement do enhance the global awareness and global citizenship within Penn State community. From a financial perspective, international students provide a significant source of tuition income to the University and provide significant economic benefits, locally and nationally. International students contributed more than $22 billion to the US Economy in 2011/2012, of which more than $1 billion came to Pennsylvania. Penn State is responsible for $187 million of this total, which places us first in the Commonwealth. But this is only part of the story; research data have shown that on the aggregate, more than 25% of the startups in the US over the past two decades involve people who came here initially as a scholar or student from other countries. This demonstrates that international students and scholars are a significant source of economic development and an engine of economic growth for the Commonwealth and the nation.  In partnership with the relevant offices across the University (Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate School, etc), we will help to build a steady pipeline and large pool of strategically diverse international student applicants. Similarly, we will work with academic units interested in hosting international scholars to cultivate a steady stream of candidates. Specifically, we will do the followings:
1.3.1  Utilize our GEN relationships and the enormous resources of our engaged international alumni network to build productive relationships with sponsors-- corporations and national government agencies from regions of the world currently underrepresented in our international student population.
1.3.2  Work with our GEN partners to increase the application pool of excellent candidates for Graduate School and the professional schools.
1.3.3  Develop opportunities for integrating domestic and international students.
1.3.4  Increase development opportunities for support staff in academic departments across our campuses on matters affecting international students and scholars.
1.4  Facilitate global engagement across the entire University Community

The GEN, and its support structure, will provide significant opportunities for colleges and campuses to develop international teaching and research programs and to facilitate their engagement in the Global Penn State. In this context we will do the followings.

1.4.1  Work in partnership with the Office of VP for Commonwealth Campuses to identify a lead campus in each region that will share resources with other campuses to support the needs of international students. Global Programs and the Office of VP for Commonwealth Campuses have partnered to hire a director of campus engagement who works with the different campuses to align their global engagement strategies with the overall University strategy. This partnership, initially funded for three years, is being reviewed annually with the possibility of making it a multi-year appointment.
1.4.2  Conduct regular workshops for regional clusters of Commonwealth Campuses on topical issues of importance to internationalization.
1.4.3  Showcase successful Campus internationalization programs with the intent of sharing best practices with other campuses.

Goal #2: Incentivize Broad Faculty Involvement in Global Engagement

Building the Global Penn State requires engagement of the entire Penn State community. However, the Penn State faculty is the prime engine for leading the way in global scholarship and in promoting global citizenship among our students. Global Programs will partner with academic units and relevant Faculty Senate committees, including the Faculty Senate Committee on Global Programs, to promote the broad faculty engagement that is critical to our success. We will advocate for integrating international engagement into the reward and recognition system of the University and we will also do the followings.
2.1  Create a set of vehicles for facilitating faculty engagement
Examples include:
2.1.1  Web-based portal that supports faculty by building a regional knowledgebase that could be utilized in the development of new education programs and research projects.
2.1.2  International Travel Grants to support faculty engaged in international education programs.
2.1.3  Faculty workshops to develop new and innovative approaches to internationalizing the curriculum and building global competency and global citizenship.
2.2  Appoint Regional Resource Advisors (RRAs) to support the development of the GEN
Areas of emphasis include local knowledge and cultural nuances, grants writing, support services, and curricular enhancements. RRAs will also facilitate the integration of international and domestic students. Regional Resource Advisors will collaborate and form a network with the Directors of the joint collaborative centers at the partner institutions and with faculty and students engaged in programs with the GEN partners to build a Community of Practice around internationalization.
2.3  Provide Financial Incentives to encourage College/Campus Internationalization
Global Programs will promote partnerships with colleges and campuses for the development of internationalization initiatives that will have a transformative impact on college and campus programs and that fit well into the broad internationalization mission of the University. This will include the followings.
2.3.1  A Provost’s Internationalization Incentive Fund that can be used by departments to infuse global perspectives into the curricular. The funds may be used for faculty time, travel, and on-campus program development activities (joint courses with international institutions, joint supervision of students, etc.).
2.3.2  Faculty Internationalization Fellowships. These will be awarded annually on a university-wide, competitive basis. These fellowships will support individual faculty members who propose innovative initiatives that promote transformational international engagement, enrich research and teaching, and have the potential to significantly and broadly enhance the global perspectives of the faculty member’s education and research agenda. One of the leading criteria is evidence that such a program has a very good chance of attracting external support to render itself self-sustaining, engendering a long-term internationalization commitment.
2.4  Develop an International Scholars-in-Residence Program
Global Programs will invite select individuals from the international community to Penn State and will support their short-term presence at the University. These scholars will have the stature and experience to significantly contribute to the broad internationalization mission of Penn State through lectures, research, workshops, interactions with faculty and students, etc. Typically, these individuals would be regional or global leaders whose presence and interaction with Penn State faculty, students, and staff can significantly enrich our global engagements.

Goal #3: Develop Operations Support Infrastructure for Global Engagement

3.1  Build a Strong Support Staff for Global Engagement
Penn State staff provides critical support to the faculty and students in teaching, research, and service. Cultivating strong support for global engagement among staff is vitally important to the success of Penn State’s global strategy. To this end we will do the followings.
3.1.1  Provide learning opportunities for staff to interact with peers in our GEN institutions. This would be done by actively developing staff exchanges for sharing best practices in support of global education. This would include virtual interactions as well as actual travel to locations.
3.1.2  Offer webinars to college and campus staff on all relevant aspects of Penn State’s internationalization activities. New webinars will be offered in response to staff demand for particular topics, and existing webinars will serve as an on-line “how to” archive of policies, procedures and best practices.
3.2  Enhance Risk Management
International activities carry the possibility of financial and/or reputational risk to the University and, some risk to the wellbeing of the individual traveler -- faculty, staff and students. While we already have good risk management processes in place, we will strengthen them as follows:.
3.2.1  Enhance safety legal compliance of the traveler through a Travel Registry that facilitates provision of emergency services, provides up-to-date information on security and health issues, as well as providing information on customs regulations, export control issues, etc.
3.2.2  Provide resources to the faculty and staff that will enhance their knowledge, adoption and compliance with the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad issued by the Forum on Education Abroad. Similar process applies to compliance with the Clery Act, international regulations and international student federal and national regulations.
3.3  Cultivate International Alumni
International and domestic alumni living overseas are a valuable resource for building the Global Penn State.  They have local networks and expertise that can enrich education-abroad programs, expand international student recruitment opportunities, facilitate collaboration with international companies, etc. We will develop the Global Ambassador Program, create a database of international alumni, including locations, expertise and activities, and develop mechanisms to encourage international alumni giving.

III. Planning for University-Wide Priorities

1.  A Framework for Diversity

International and domestic diversity are important to our goal of becoming a more inclusive global community. Much progress was made during the last strategic planning cycle and more still needs to be done. Valuing diversity continues to be a core principle of Global Programs. Promoting diversity through our various activities is central to much of what is described in this plan—international student and scholar recruitment, locations and target populations for study-abroad, integration of domestic and international student on campuses; and in the thematic approach to the Global Engagement Network—recognizing that multiple perspectives and different ways of understanding problems and developing solutions are critical for addressing current global challenges.
We intend to embark on the followings in order to enhance diversity.

  • Develop programs to recruit a more diverse population of students to study abroad
  • Use our joint centers as a recruitment tool to diversify our international students’ population.
  • Include discussions of diversity in the annual and regional faculty workshops.
  • Foster an atmosphere that values respect for cultural differences by sensitizing staff to understand the cultural nuances relevant to the international students and scholars among us.
  • Promote a culture of inclusiveness by providing targeted diversity training for staff across the University with particular respect to international students and scholars
  • Encourage search committees to actively cultivate a diverse population in the applicant pool.

2.  A Comprehensive Digital Strategy

We will develop innovative operational and infrastructure solutions to support a superior digital future with emphasis on:

  • Workflow efficiency and effectiveness—building web-enabled processes that are easily accessible and support global operations such as a travel registry, international financial processing, and a client management system for international activities.
  • Stakeholder communications—promoting and publicizing the University’s internationalization and globalization activities, both within and outside of the University, is critical for demonstrating the impact of these activities and encouraging further engagement of the university and alumni community. We will enhance the Global Web Portal to provide up-to-date information to faculty, staff and students in order to facilitate their engagement in the global activities of the University, and develop social media tools that engage all our global stakeholders on campus and abroad.
  • The global classroom—promoting the development of the infrastructure, processes and methodologies needed to integrate education abroad and domestic classes, on-line and residential learning, and formal and informal education around core concepts of global competency and global citizenship.

3.  Learning Outcome Assessment

Almost all of the educational programming in Global Programs relates back in some way to the academic unit, which will have specific learning objectives related to the discipline. However, there are cross-cutting goals related to skills such as cross-cultural communication, understanding, teamwork and problem-solving which are emerging as critical attributes for future success. There is considerable national and international scholarship in this area that can be adapted and enhanced to meet a Penn State definition of global competency and global citizenship. We plan to do just that by taking advantage of the existing assessment expertise within the University; we will focus on defining and assessing learning outcomes related to global competency and global citizenship for all education abroad and international student programing.

4.  Integrity and Ethical Behavior

Global Programs will contribute to University-wide practices that promote integrity and ethical behavior in three broad areas:

  • Provide resources to the faculty and staff that will enhance their knowledge, adoption and compliance with the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad issued by the Forum on Education Abroad. Similar process applies to compliance with the Clery Act, international regulations and international student federal and national regulations.
  • Include discourses on ethical behavior and accepted standards of practice for incoming international students and for domestic students studying abroad.
  • Ensure that ethical-decision making is a core element of the thematic networks strategy. Whether focused on health, climate change, energy security or any of the other global challenges we face, they all involve the need for ethical decision-making in defining problems, collecting data, and developing solutions with cultural perspectives.

5.  Sustainability and Health

At the local level, sustainability tends to invoke ethical questions around resource utilization and business decisions around resource management. In this context, sustainability will be an integral part of our operation in Global Programs. We will broadly integrate sustainability principles into the daily operations of the Office. We intend to become a “Green Global Programs” by creating an office-wide vision for sustainability efforts that sets high expectations for all staff, and empowering the Global Programs Sustainability Committee to develop and execute high-impact sustainability initiatives.
Beyond the local, many of the potential GEN thematic networks overlap significantly with issues of global sustainability (climate change, land use and biological diversity, food, energy and water security, etc.)—issues that are significant for the long-term viability of the planet and human society.
The first GEN thematic network, initiated in May 2014, was developed around global health. The network brought together 10 of our partner institutions from eight countries, focusing on the intersection of infectious and non-communicable disease and on urban health.  Again, health is a core element of sustainability. The focus on thematic networks puts us in a position to not only advance our understanding of these global scale processes that are critical for sustainability, but to have a global voice in defining the role of higher education in addressing these challenges.

IV. Response to Core Council Recommendations

Most of the major recommendations made by the Core Council can be broadly divided into two categories, namely, need for Global Programs not to allow mission creep and need to better define the role of Global Programs in the quest for broad internationalization of Penn State. Both are being addressed in this strategic plan which emphasizes partnership with the academic units as well as other administrative support units of the University, as the vehicle for achieving the strategic goals. We have created a number of task forces to focus on specific aspects. In developing this plan, the Strategic Planning Committees were specifically directed to take the Core Council recommendations into account in their deliberations and they did.

V. Indicators of Implementation Success

Global Partnerships

  • Establishment of six centers for collaborative engagement strategically located around the world; each center will host 2-3 faculty-led undergraduate education programs per year, facilitate two new collaborative research projects and 2-3 co-taught collaborative courses each year; and recruit 15 new international students each year to Penn State.
  • Success will be measured by the breadth of faculty engagement in the thematic partnerships and the intellectual contributions toward addressing some of the global challenges of our time. The goal is to develop four vibrant thematic networks around significant global challenges during the planning cycle. These networks will involve an aggregate of 10% of the Penn State faculty and double the number of publications and funded research proposals with an international collaborative component in the thematic areas. Each theme will have at least one faculty-led embedded course or an independent internship opportunity, as well as 2-3 co-taught collaborative courses with one or more partners in the network.

Faculty Engagement

  • The goal is to work with 2-3 departments in the colleges or 2-3 campuses each year to effect a significant transformation in their international and global programming.
  • The target is 25% increase in faculty-led international programs over five years; and almost 100% of new programs complying with the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.
  • The target are 25% increase in co-authored publications and patents with international partners; 25% increase in levels of international funding; 25% increase in number of students involved in collaborative educational programs over the next planning period. Note: these data are not collected at present; our first task is to develop mechanisms to routinely collect these indicators of faculty international engagement.

Education Abroad

  • Penn State currently sends 2,500 students abroad to more than 50 countries every year. This reflects a 27% increase over the past five years, but represents less than 1-in-5 graduating students having had an international experience; our five-year target is to increase that to 1-in-4 students University-wide (with 1-in-3 at University Park).  

International Students and Scholars

  • Current enrollment of international students is 8,225 (9.7% of total enrollment), an increase of 105% since 2008. Undergraduates account for most of the growth, which increased from 1,532 (in 2008) to 5,365 (in 2014). The 5-year goal is 15% of the total student enrollment, with at least 25% of them enrolled at the Commonwealth Campuses. The goal for international scholars, currently at 1,500, is 2,000 in 5 years; the goal is to ensure that 25% of that growth comes from non-traditional locations.

The Ultimate Destination-The Global Penn State

Transforming Penn State into a truly global University requires the integration of global perspectives into our academic programs—research and education—at the fundamental level. Faculty engagement is the key to doing this. We are well positioned to collaborate with our strategic partners around the world in addressing some of the major global challenges of our time and to integrate results into education and outreach, largely because of the University’s on-going strategic investment in interdisciplinary research via the Institutes. This plan will leverage these enormous resources by harnessing the interdisciplinary prowess of our Institutes. In doing this, we will partner with the Office of VP for Research.
When the vision of making Penn State a world leader in scholarship and international engagements is realized, global engagement will have become the standard operating practice of the university and a staple ingredient in teaching, research, and service. At that point, the role of Global Programs will simply become that of supporting the academic units. When this happens, Penn State will have transformed itself into a truly 21st Century Global Land-grant University.