A Place in the World

Emory's growth as an international community

Allison O. Adams

Editor, The Academic Exchange


cover illustrationLike many other institutions in the United States, Emory University has seen an increasingly internationally diverse campus community take shape in the last decade. The number of non-domestic students at Emory has grown nearly one and a half times from 960 in 2003 to 2,303 in 2012. The number of international scholars has grown at a similar rate (see charts here). And nationwide, according to the U.S. State Department website, F-1 visa issuances—the visa by which most international students come to this country—grew from around 300,000 in 2007 to nearly 500,000 in 2012.

The impact of such a transformation on the culture and character of an institution is both obvious and subtle. It can be seen in classrooms and pedagogies, in dormitories and food services, in student support structures and research programs. As much as Emory’s intentions for a global identity a few years ago were expressed through notions of export— “points of presence” in other parts of the world (see the university’s 2005 Strategic Plan)—today that identity is shaped by the imprints of multiple cultures on Emory itself. 

This issue of the Academic Exchange examines both the recent evolution of Emory as an international campus as well as its future, beginning with an essay from Philip Wainwright, recently appointed to the role of vice provost for international affairs, who provides some perspective on Emory’s trajectory as an international institution, as well as the questions ahead. Two faculty members, Tom Remington of political science and Frank Maddox of economics at Oxford College, offer first-person views on how the growing presence of international students in their classrooms has changed their teaching and their understanding of their own roles as professors.

Two professors from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Karen Stolley and Donald Tuten, explore more deeply that conversation about shifting professorial perspectives with their essay on translingual and transcultural competence and an interdisciplinary University Course they will be leading in Spring 2014 on these questions. Then Valerie Molyneaux, director of international programs in the Goizueta Business School, offers a thoughtful set of “actionable suggestions” toward enriching the international community at Emory and providing better support for students. 

Molyneaux’s essay is followed by a Q&A with Natalie Cruz, brought to Emory last summer as the new coordinator of international student life in the Division of Campus Life to help international students settle more holistically into living and learning at Emory. A second Q&A, with public health scholar Carlos Del Rio, directs our view outward, to a program that brings young researchers to Emory from around the world for advanced training in the field of HIV/AIDS study. As Del Rio observes, those researchers who return to their home countries are Emory alumni, and they carry the university’s identity with them.

Kristi Hubbard, director of the Center for International Programs Abroad in Emory College, then discusses the ways that the study abroad experiences of Emory undergraduates are tailored to five particular learning goals within the liberal arts. Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, director of the Institute for Developing Nations, follows by examining the relationship between Emory and The Carter Center and the opportunities that still await the two institutions for building a community of scholarship and practice with a distinctive and global impact.

To close this issue, recently appointed Center for Faculty Development and Excellence director Pamela Scully, professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and African studies, reflects on her own experiences as a “naturalized” American academic—South African born, U.S. trained. 

The questions of internationalization are so complex and nuanced that this issue cannot begin to identify them all. Even the ever-broadening phenomenon of open, online education raises related topics, with its emerging communities of learners all over the world connecting with one another. These topical global networks are creating an entirely new kind of social geography within the realm of the academy. 

In the spring semester, the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence will be hosting an Academic Learning Community for further discussions on “Teaching International Students” (see sidebar page 4 for details). Please consider joining the conversations. —A.O.A.