To be effective citizens and to excel in their chosen careers, UI students must develop cross-cultural competencies, and we must provide them opportunities to learn to function successfully and with ease in global environments. The learning and discovery guided by faculty at the University of Iowa reshape our understanding of the world, improve quality of life for many, and create economic benefits in the state of Iowa and around the globe. International relationships and partnerships, from the individual to the institutional, within and beyond our campus, add value to and expand the reach of our curricular, research, outreach, and economic development activities. We must successfully leverage these partnerships, including with our alumni living abroad. The University of Iowa must think and act as a global institution to be in a position to excel over the coming decades.

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The New York Times published a brief piece, entitled "Study Abroad's Seven Deadly Sins," in the Education Life section of the Sunday paper on April 10th.  The article is not inaccurate in the strictest sense; but the larger context is missing.  The author, a professor at the University of North Carolina, stokes the fires of parental alarm by listing seven evils of study abroad: slide courses, suds (beer), sexual fervidity (as if sex were absent from our home campuses), shopping, self-segregation, smartphoning, and selfie-taking.

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WorldCanvass tackles informatics—also known as big data—on its final program of the 2015-2016 season. Guests from the diverse fields of computer science, medicine, sociology, public health, and geographical and sustainability sciences will discuss the proliferation of big data and their attempts to both understand and utilize this massive and, in many ways, untamed digital resource. “Big Data: Big Brother or Big Sister?” is the topic at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, at FilmScene. WorldCanvass is free and open to the public.

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For most students at the University of Iowa, winter break is a time to unwind, visit with family and indulge in a well-deserved Netflix binge while curled up with a cup of hot cocoa. But for others like Victor Diaz, it was an opportunity to make a difference – to embark on a journey to Pondicherry, India for a three-week study abroad course, “Serving Children with Disabilities, Empowering Local Women, Assisting Older Adults.” As part of the course, he observed the physical therapy and special education initiatives many non-profit organizations have implemented in order for these otherwise unwelcome individuals to develop academically or vocationally so that they can integrate into society more able-bodied and prepared. Through these interactions and observations, he learned more about the importance of communication - especially cross-culturally and cross linguistically.

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The University of Iowa is one of the top producers of Fulbright students for 2015-16, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Twelve University of Iowa students were awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to conduct research, attend graduate school, undertake creative projects, or serve as English teaching assistants abroad in the 2015–16 academic year. This is the greatest number of placements the UI has ever secured in a single calendar year, resulting in a tied ranking for 27th on a list of peer institutions.

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The UI’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies has long been the home of interdisciplinary collaboration, where thinking outside the box isn’t just the result but the operating principle.
Ten years ago, the Obermann Center, believing strongly in the power of actively-engaged scholarship, established an institute which would put experienced faculty together with graduate students to show them how they can enhance their teaching, research, and creative work through purposeful interaction with community partners.
We’ll hear from participants—faculty, graduate students, and community members—on the next WorldCanvass in a program called “Taking It to the Streets: Engagement and the Academy.” The free program begins at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, at FilmScene in downtown Iowa City.

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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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We live in an age of new technology, expecting any day to wake up to yet another jaw-dropping device or a discovery that simply changes everything about the way we live and work. The rate of innovation in the modern age can be breathtaking, but technological advances have jolted humans into new and unfamiliar territory since the dawn of humankind. On the next WorldCanvass, we’ll contemplate the larger implications of the adoption of new technologies—how do they change the ways in which individuals interact, the sharing of information, the movement of people and ideas from place to place, and what does all of this mean to the shape and form of a culture? WorldCanvass guests will discuss “Encountering New Technology” at FilmScene on February 9, beginning at 5 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

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Iowa City ranked seventh in the Peace Corps’ 2015 listing of the country’s top volunteer-producing metro areas per capita. This is the first time the Iowa City metro area (defined as Washington and Johnson counties) reached the top 10 on the list of currently-serving Peace Corps volunteers.

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