Dean's Newsletter

Vol. 5, Issue 2

October/November 2010: Vol. 5, Issue 2

In 2006 the Ohio Department of Education convened a distinguished group of educators, business leaders, and policy-makers (the International Education Advisory Committee) to make recommendations on how the state could “provide Ohioans with the necessary knowledge, abilities, and opportunities to thrive in a global society.” In its 2008 Strategic Plan, the committee formulated four basic goals to implement its mission. These goals included:

  • Ohio citizens will understand the global context and diversity of relationships among themselves, their communities, and the world.
  • Ohio educators will deliver global content as a component of a world-class education and will create systems to support it.
  • Ohio students will become global thinkers with 21st-century skills, so that they can think critically and creatively across disciplines, manage complexity, embrace technology, and value diversity.

These three initial goals were presented in service of the last goal: “to achieve greater economic prosperity and improved quality of life.” Thus, the Strategic Plan made a strong case that global education is crucial for the future health and well being of the citizens of this state.

Global awareness has been a traditional strength in CLASS, and the college’s Strategic Plan explicitly directs us to increase our “global awareness.” Certainly creating systems and partnerships to support global education in CLASS has been one of my strong interests since becoming dean in 2005. In 2008, I created a CLASS International Education Advisory Task Force to study the college’s international profile and recommend ways to strengthen it. I regularly consult the recommendations of the Task Force’s final report, and I continue to be grateful for their efforts. One of the college’s particular strengths is our ability to tie our international efforts with the interests and aspirations of local Cleveland ethnic communities, creating programs that engage us both globally and locally at the same time. In sum, the orientation and mission of CLASS aligns very well with the vision and recommendations of the Ohio Education Advisory Committee.

I have been thinking a lot about international education these days. First of all, I just returned from a partnership-building trip to Warsaw and Istanbul, and I was heartened by the strong positive response from our partners to my efforts to build up our ties. Secondly, however, I have been struck with the international character of much of the college’s recent activity, and I would like to highlight some of that activity in this newsletter.

First of all, let me say a few words about new international partnerships that are being developed. In Poland I met with representatives of the Collegium Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw. In our meetings, we discussed ways to build faculty and student exchanges as well as to connect the work of our various research centers. In response to strong expressions of interest from members of the Polish-American community in Cleveland, I hope to raise the funds to create a Visiting Polish Scholar endowment, based upon the model of our Visiting India Scholar program. We envision Polish scholars from the University of Warsaw visiting our campus for one semester every two years, to teach courses in Polish and Eastern European history and culture. A synergy could be created between the work of these scholars and the work being done by our dynamic Center for Slovenian Studies. As to student exchanges, we will begin small, creating one-to-one exchanges between our undergraduates and theirs. Our model in this is the current student exchange agreement between CSU and the University of Rouen, France.

My talks at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul further developed initial discussions begun in 2008. We had success on several fronts. First, we formed an agreement by which students in their undergraduate program in American Studies would come to Cleveland State University for one semester to complete our own Certificate in American Studies. We may be seeing American Studies Turkish students on campus as early as spring semester 2011. Secondly, Rodger Govea and I concluded an agreement by which their students in International Relations would enroll in a recently approved 3 + 1 + 1 CSU program leading to the Master of Arts in Global Interactions. This program is housed in the Department of Political Science. We will probably be seeing those students on our campus as early as fall semester 2011. Finally, we discussed the possibility of CSU students going to Istanbul for further study in International Relations or for a summer course in the history and art of Istanbul. These courses will be taught in English and, thus, perfectly accessible to CSU students with an interest in a truly exciting world-class city at the crossroads of Eastern and Western civilizations. If you know of any CSU students who would be interested in such a summer course, please contact my office or the Center for International Services and Programs.

So the college continues to move forward to establish a full palette of exciting choices for students who wish to study abroad. Two areas where we are not currently represented are Africa and the Middle East. I wanted to make you aware, however, that we are moving forward in those areas as well. Murali Nair and his colleagues in Social Work, in collaboration with Bill Morgan, are moving ahead briskly to establish a student-exchange partnership with an African university. They met recently to plan a strategy to implement such a partnership and are now corresponding with five different African universities in four diverse countries—Kenya, Botswana, Senegal, and Nigeria. In addition, Stephen Cory, Stephen Gingerich, and Abed Tayyara recently met to discuss possible partnerships with universities in Morocco and Palestine. I should add that, while CSU students already go to Costa Rica to study Spanish, Peter Dunham would like to create a partnership with yet another Central American university in Belize. Finally, Michael Mauldin is exploring the creation of a London-based theatre study program. These potential partnerships are still in the early stages of development, but each is worthy of our support, and each has the potential to significantly improve our global profile.

Of course, thanks to Murali Nair, we already have a thriving summer school partnership with a university in India, Kerala University, and I have already mentioned our model India Studies Visiting Scholar endowment. I am pleased to let you know that our search last spring for the next India Scholar, chaired by Matt Jackson-McCabe, was successful. In spring 2011, we will bring Dr. Nirmal Selvamony to our campus for a one-semester residency. A seasoned university professor of English literature and a specialist in Tamil philosophy, music, art, and culture, Dr. Selvamony will be teaching a nonwestern general education course for the Honors Program that examines Indian approaches to Eco-Criticism. He will also be offering an evening course on Tamil art and another course on Tamil poetry and music. Judging from the success of our last India Scholar, spring semester will offer many exciting opportunities for the campus to learn about this ancient and important culture.

Another exciting international opportunity for this campus was the recent residency of Dr. Bartholomäus Wissmath of the University of Bern in Switzerland. Dr. Wissmath’s trip was funded by a Hans-Sigrist Fellowship from the University of Bern, the most prestigious fellowship given by that university. He was here during the month of September to conduct research on the issues of telepresence, identity, and media enjoyment. In that research, he collaborated with Cheryl Bracken and Paul Skalski in our School of Communication.

Cleveland State has a long history of success with respect to our faculty winning Fulbright Awards. Now we have a student who has won a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarship. Mai-Kim Dang of our School of Communication has recently won a Fulbright to travel to Ethiopia and conduct research on Ethiopian film, film history, and African film culture. Only 815 students nationwide were awarded this honor, and we are very proud that Ms. Dang is among them.

Our global orientation hit me forcefully on October 6th. On that busy day, the college had three different guest lectures that highlighted different aspects of global culture or America’s relationship to an international partner. At noon, Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria, who once was considered a prime candidate for the papacy, came to campus to deliver a lecture entitled “Race, Gender, Class, and Social Justice.” The Cardinal was invited to the Cleveland area by the local Nigerian-American community, in partnership with CSU’s Black Studies Program and the Department of Religious Studies. Later that day, the Cultural Crossings Lecture Series presented human rights activist Enrique Morones, the founder of Border Angels, a volunteer group that places food, water, and other provisions in the desert border area between Mexico and the United States. Morones talked about the work of his organization as it strives to save lives at the border crossings. Finally, that same day, Dr. Thomas Priestly came to campus to speak about his experiences in Carinthia, a beautiful Slovenian-heritage region located just inside the border of Austria. Dr. Priestly, a Professor of Slavic languages at the University of Alberta, is the world’s leading expert in Slovenian dialectology. His lecture was sponsored by the Center for Slovenian Studies. Although it is not usual to have three different internationally-oriented lectures on a single day, the global connections that these lectures represent certainly capture a vital center of interest for the students and faculty of this college.

I am reminded that our celebrated Turkish director and playwright, Özen Yula, has completed his nine-month residency with our Department of Theatre and Dance and with Cleveland Public Theatre. While here, Mr. Yula taught a class and created a new dramatic work called “Codename: Exile,” which premiered last April. His visit was funded through a Creative Fusion grant from the Cleveland Foundation, and I know that our contacts at the Foundation think that his visit was an unqualified success. Through his work, Mr. Yula touched the lives of significant numbers of students, theatre professionals, and Cleveland residents. His residency is a good example of an international contact having a significant local impact.

While we do regularly receive international guests, I want to conclude by noting that our own faculty are also invited internationally to share their expertise with audiences around the world. While I won’t give a comprehensive list of all the international lectures recently given over the past year by our faculty, I will note the most recent. Jose Sola delivered a paper in Canada last June at the conference of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. This month Liz Lehfeldt is also traveling to Canada to present a paper at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. In November, Mary Ellen Waithe will be traveling to a UNESCO Conference in Paris to take part in a panel on political obstacles to women’s adequate representation in philosophy. That same month Chuck Hersch will be traveling to the U.K. to present a paper at a conference on jazz and race.

A full listing of all the ways that CLASS is connected globally would run past the length of my newsletter, but I hope to have suggested how thoroughly the college is woven into a global fabric of research, teaching, and student and faculty exchanges. We are, in fact, strongly delivering the “global content” and “supporting systems” requested in the Ohio Department of Education’s Strategic Plan, and we plan to just keep getting better at it. We need to continue to form the global awareness of our students and, in particular, to encourage them to master a second language, an unmistakable mark of a truly global citizen.

Before I close, let me change themes and remind you of two very special up-coming events. On Wednesday, October 27th, Evan Lieberman will deliver his presentation entitled “Lights, Camera, Cleveland: The Emerging Film Culture of Cleveland” to a gathering of Cleveland State Alumni at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake. I saw Dr. Lieberman’s presentation earlier this week, and he paints a fascinating picture of Cleveland’s growing presence in and importance to the film industry. Second, on November 20th, CLASS will present “A Tribute to Reuben and Dorothy Silver,” honoring Cleveland’s leading theater couple. This evening will begin at the Cleveland Play House and end at the Factory Theatre for a showing of the Metamorphoses. It will be a wonderful, festive evening, and proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to support scholarships for our theatre students. You are all invited to join us for both events. For tickets, please contact Marianne Gaydos in our Development Office.

Best wishes,