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CWC, UW partner on grant to enhance international studies

Apr 1, 2012 - By Bridget Wilson, University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming and Central Wyoming College are collaborating with community colleges across the state to extend international studies opportunities beyond UW.

The effort, funded by a three-year U.S. Department of Education grant promotes internationalization in Wyoming, said UW political science professor Jean Garrison, international studies program director in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"We're bringing the world to Wyoming," said Garrison, who directs the grant project with Central Wyoming College professor Jim Thurman.

"Internationalization makes people aware of how they fit into the world around them. Knowledge of others helps us understand ourselves and our values."

A few years ago, only Casper College and Laramie County Community College offered associate degrees in international studies. Garrison said the Department of Education grant has resulted in degrees offered by Northwest College and Central Wyoming College.

New international courses were offered at Sheridan College and Eastern Wyoming College.

"When students with an associate's degree in international studies transfer to UW, they can continue their major without having to backtrack on language classes or other core requirements," Garrison said.

In addition to these new degrees, eight new courses have been developed and 10 more are being developed. These courses will provide students with opportunities to study international issues and will include non-western political cultures and South Asian culture and language courses.

In the summers of 2010 and 2011, UW hosted two course development workshops to help community college instructors create new courses such as Irish Studies and Japanese language courses.

The Japanese language courses will be implemented in response to the interests of CWC students. The courses will be offered online so all Wyoming community college students will be able to take advantage of this educational opportunity.

"I believe in a liberal arts education," Garrison said. "The value of an internationally oriented liberal arts education is that you're providing students with a tool kit that helps prepare them for the ever-changing global context. If you can sit in someone else's shoes for five minutes, you can better understand why they do what they do."

The $135,000 grant is from the Department of Education's Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language competition.

Thurman came to CWC from Ankara, Turkey, were he was the first American to finish doctoral coursework in Turkish politics. Hhe has been invited to participate at the Jack and Anita Hess Seminar for Faculty at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., which resulted in the visit of Holocaust survivor Robert Behr to CWC.

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