dean's blog

In his latest Dean's blog, Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas writes about the impact of international experiences.

While close to three-quarters of S&P 500 companies generate international revenue, the leaders of these companies have a long way to go in developing their global competencies. Yes, English has become the lingua franca of international business; but culture is always local. And far too few executives have the skills to be truly successful in unfamiliar cultural waters. Culture is far more than mastering a calendar of national holidays or knowing how to say hello. Negotiation varies from one culture to another, as do a vast array of expectations related to the business of getting things done, ranging from timing to process, from who decides to how to approach next steps. To be competitive, our graduates need to have the skills that allow them to approach new situations with confidence, to listen attentively to what is being said and what is not being said, and to understand multiple shades of grey. And an excellent way to gain such skills is to study, intern, or live abroad.

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Student support is more important than ever in higher education; and with increasing priority given to offering opportunities to students in global education, scholarships have a crucial role. University of Iowa students have access to hundreds of scholarship opportunities and many are designated specifically for international study or for international students who attend the UI.

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A European study of the effects of study abroad on employability shows that experiences abroad enhance skills such as acceptance of unfamiliar cultures and attitudes, openness and adaptability, awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, ability to make decisions, and ability to solve problems.

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The University of Iowa celebrates International Education Week as an annual opportunity to promote global awareness and engagement and to feature the international opportunities offered on our campus and in our community. Today, as never before, education must be globally oriented to prepare Iowans and students from around the country and around the world to move confidently across borders, to interact effectively with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and to take pleasure in a life filled with inquiry and discovery.

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With Labor Day just past, and classes well underway, I want to welcome everyone to the 2014-15 academic year! I always enjoy the expansive feeling at the beginning of the school year, with so many new faces, undergraduates eager to visit the office to explore options abroad; graduate and professional students working with Karen Wachsmuth to apply for grants and fellowships; and faculty across the disciplines contacting me with ideas about how they can enhance their global teaching, research, and engagement activities.

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In this dean's blog entry, Downing Thomas asks the question where do the terms "global" and "international" come from?

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Cultural knowledge goes beyond language ability. It is difficult to acquire, but can be valuable in your career and ultimately personally satisfying.

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Welcome to the 2013-14 academic year! As I do at the beginning of every fall semester, I would like to share a few thoughts on the University’s progress in internationalization, and some specific projects and activities for the coming year.

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Sometimes you may find an opportunity to travel to a country that is unfamilar or to an institution at which you have no existing professional connections. In those instances, International Programs can help identify other UI faculty who already have a knowledge of the area and who may even have long-standing connections at the particular institution you plan to visit.

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As part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Iowa and Hebei, and in recognition of the significant and growing economic ties between Iowa and China, Governor Terry Branstad led a delegation of business, community, and educational leaders to China this past week. In addition to Governor Branstad and Ms. Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, members of the delegation represented interests as diverse as agriculture, law, manufacturing, and higher education. A large group from the Iowa Sister States non-profit was also present, on their first trip abroad as a group, to mark the 30th anniversary of the relationship.

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