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WASC Review Spurs Deepened Focus on Internationalization

by University Relations

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation review culminates this fall with the Educational Effectiveness Review (EER), slated for October 10–12. During the visit, the WASC Commission will evaluate APU’s commitment to educational effectiveness, the university’s efforts toward addressing findings reported in the March 2011 Capacity and Preparatory Review (CPR), and the university’s ability to support its goals of transformational scholarship, faith integration, God-honoring diversity, and intentional internationalization.

The latter goal represents a core concern for all colleges and universities as they re-evaluate the way higher education can best prepare students to engage in global issues. The ever-increasing interconnectedness of the industrialized and developing worlds necessitates an urgent transformation in academia. For Azusa Pacific, the heightened need for globally competent graduates requires a more focused approach to its 113-year commitment to training people with international and intercultural sensitivity, knowledge, and expertise. “Unlike secular higher education, where internationalization is important for economic, diplomatic, social, and academic reasons, at Christian universities, there should be a deeper theological and spiritual rationale for such engagement. With that in mind, we need to make a paradigm shift from output to outcome, from quantity to quality,” said Frances Wu, Ph.D., APU’s global learning specialist.

As the university prepares for the EER, two questions drive the assessment efforts for intentional internationalization: How effectively do APU experiences related to intentional internationalization impact global competence among students, and how does international teaching and research impact faculty’s professional development and learning?

The Center for Global Learning & Engagement offers more than 40 opportunities for students to enhance their educational experience, including semester programs like the Oxford Semester and the South Africa Semester; study-away programs like L.A. Term and High Sierra Semester; summer short-term programs in Asia, Europe, and Israel; and long-term programs where students spend a year or more living and studying within another culture. But not all cross-cultural experiences necessitate a study abroad commitment. The primary focus of Anthropology for Everyday Life, a course in the Department of Global Studies, Sociology, and TESOL, requires students to establish a relationship with a cultural mentor within the local community.

Faculty members also participate in the internationalization movement by teaching courses abroad. On campus, the Center for Global Learning & Engagement hosts seminars to inform faculty members about intercultural opportunities and prepares them for the experience by helping them overcome obstacles such as time and finances, and identifying links between their expertise and intercultural opportunity.

As the campus community works toward this common goal, the motivation behind the task of intentional internationalization involves more than evaluation and accreditation. It embodies the very essence of the institution, which mirrors the Great Commission, to develop disciples and scholars who can adapt their frame of reference to multiple cultural contexts so they can effectively live, work, and share the Gospel with people throughout the world.

Originally published in the Spring '12 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).