Preparing students to meet the challenges of a global society

Filed Under: President's Post

Middle Tennessee State University has worked to strengthen its international initiatives on the campus and abroad. Our academic master plan calls upon us to provide these opportunities so our students can learn to live and work within a global network.

During the past decade, we have increased our international undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, expanded our study-abroad opportunities, developed faculty and student exchanges and sought research collaborations with international partners.

Those efforts have resulted in many benefits for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the middle Tennessee region.  Here are just a few examples of our varied international outreach activities:

·         MTSU, through a competitive process, was granted in 2009 the prestigious Confucius Institute program by the Hanban Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, China. This is a $500,000 grant program.  We have received more than $300,000 in external grant funding for its operation.

·         MTSU co-hosted an international conference on the teaching of math and sciences with Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, China, attracting 50 Chinese and 50 American professors. A $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation was secured to fund this conference.

·         Just last year, the Tennessee Board of Regents established the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research at MTSU, a partnership with our university and China’sGuanxi Botanical Gardens. The collaboration will study how traditional Chinese herbs can be used in the development of modern pharmaceutical treatments.

·         Ten students and two professors from Middle Tennessee State University recently went to Japan to assist our sister school in Fukushima cleanup and rebuild after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

·         Next month, MTSU will lead a contingent of Murfreesboro children and their parents to China for a cultural exchange with sister schools, Hangzhou Normal University in Hangzhou and Beijing.

·         And, just a few weeks ago, a delegation of MTSU dance and jazz students returned from several Chinese cities where they performed as part of an ongoing cultural exchange between our University and our Chinese partnering universities.

These enriching experiences are just a few of the many that have come from MTSU’s work as a center for international study, understanding and exchange.

Not only do these efforts expose our students to the broader world, they also bring international attention to our state and the Middle Tennessee region. This was reinforced earlier this year during my recent trip to Thailand, home to almost 500 MTSU graduates.

During this visit, we established the first international affiliate of MTSU’s alumni association. Our alumni in Thailand have risen to become leaders of government and industry in that country, all the while holding onto their affection and ties to our university. More than 200 of our alums gathered in Bangkok to initiate the affiliate and learn more about MTSU.

I have seen first-hand the many benefits that come from the development of these global partnerships and I am proud of our university’s work and results in forging these ties.

These efforts are helping make international awareness, knowledge and proficiency intrinsic to MTSU – which, in turn, better prepares our students for opportunities in the 21st Century.
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