Dickinson College Becomes First U.S. College to Win Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization Twice

Simon Award 2019

Simon Award recognizes Dickinson’s commitment to internationalization on campus and abroad

by Craig Layne

Dickinson has been recognized with the 2019 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, becoming the first college in the country to receive the award twice. In 2003, Dickinson was an inaugural recipient of the comprehensive award, considered to be the pinnacle of achievements in global education on campus and abroad. This year’s winners were announced today by NAFSA: Association for International Educators, the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education.

Dickinson’s commitment to internationalization on campus and abroad has been a defining characteristic of the college for decades. “We are committed to creating a global community on campus, in Carlisle and at our partner sites abroad. We work to build communities of very different people where everyone has a voice, a wide variety of viewpoints can be shared, and we can all challenge our assumptions and worldviews and learn from each other,” said Dickinson President Margee Ensign. “We are building a campuswide institutional structure that incorporates diversity and inclusion work with intercultural competence training and ethical reasoning. ‘Internationalization’ is basic to this process. The importance of internationalization—at a time when lack of knowledge of other countries and societies is a national security issue—can’t be overstated.”

Dickinson’s Center for Global Study & Engagement (CGSE)—the hub of internationalization—supports education abroad as well as international and exchange students and visiting scholars. This synergy helps support the integration of Dickinson’s international population, fosters intercultural competence skill-building and advocates for creating a more inclusive environment for Dickinson’s growing international population. International enrollment has grown from roughly 5 percent in 2003 to more than 14 percent now. 

The CGSE oversees 31 semester-long and academic-year programs in 24 countries, as well as a full range of short-term, faculty-led programs, including the distinctive global Mosaic and globally integrated courses. Nearly 60 percent of Dickinson students study abroad, while nationally only about 10 percent of college graduates do so. Approximately 70 percent of Dickinson students study abroad at the college’s own sites. The college sends abroad high numbers of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in international study—55 percent of students of color and 47 percent of science majors have studied abroad in the past five years.

Dickinson has built its own network of international programs based upon reciprocal relationships with universities, staff and faculty at each of its study abroad locations and hosts 20-30 exchange students from these partner institutions yearly. Dickinson also hosts visiting international scholars—many from its university partners abroad—for semester-long or academic-year residencies.

Internationalization is also intentional in the on-campus curriculum. Students are required to take a global diversity course and meet a foreign language requirement in one of 13 programs Dickinson offers. In 2018, one third of graduating seniors majored in an international field such as foreign languages, international studies, international business & management or area studies.

Given Dickinson’s status as an inaugural winner of the Simon Award in 2003, Samantha Brandauer '95, associate provost and executive director of CGSE, said this year’s application process provided an occasion for reflection on changes over the past 16 years as well as on the future of internationalization. “The world around us has changed, the higher education landscape has changed, and our student body has diversified, bringing different needs and expectations. What has not changed is our commitment to internationalization,” said Brandauer. “Through innovation, collaboration and flexibility, we have kept it front and center to our mission, holding on to our core value of educating students to lead meaningful lives in a complex world.”

“As future leaders of our country, it is vital that our students have the tools and experiences necessary to thrive in an increasingly interconnected global community,” emphasized Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “With institutions like these continuing to strive to incorporate creatively global perspectives onto their campuses, I am confident we can prepare our students to succeed and ultimately strengthen ties around the world.”

The Simon Award is named for the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, a strong advocate for international education and cross-cultural learning who also is the namesake of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act, a bill aimed to incentivize U.S. institutions to make study abroad an integral part of higher education by creating a modest program of challenge grants. Dickinson and fellow Simon Award recipients will be honored at a special event in Washington, D.C., during International Education Week in November.

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Published March 12, 2019