The University of Texas at Tyler Magazine - Fall 2010
A Closer Look at GATE
3 New Areas of Focus to Provide Greater Global Perspectives
The brand new Global Awareness Through Education initiative will open up the world to students of The University of Texas at Tyler.
Created as the university’s five-year Quality Enhancement Plan, this program was initiated and designed by faculty to provide students with a more global perspective in their pursuit of education.
Dr. Robert E. Sterken, assistant provost for international programs and associate professor of political science, said GATE will impact students’ view of other cultures, while giving them greater opportunities for success in the increasingly global world of business.
The original proposal by Dr. R. Stephen Krebbs, senior philosophy lecturer and director of Asian studies, and Dr. Barbara Haas, director of the doctoral nursing program, called for “globalization” of the entire campus.
Dr. Krebbs said the QEP committee was charged with taking steps to see measurable results within five years. “So we narrowed the focus,” he said.
The committee developed a plan with three components – a global learning community, globalization of core curriculum and more opportunities for study abroad.
Global Learning Community
In the fall of 2011, the university will welcome its first global learning community, comprised of 30-35 domestic and international inbound students from various disciplines across campus.
The incoming freshmen will share a dorm, take GATE-designated classes together and work together on a number of campus activities that offer global perspectives – guest lecturers, international film night, international food night and more. The students will also join efforts on a community service project with a cross-cultural impact.
Dr. Haas said the impact of the global learning community will reach beyond the 30-plus students in the program. “An increased presence of international students on campus provides a rich perspective for students who grow up in this area,” she said. “We can learn so much from them, bringing their experiences to the table.”
During the sophomore year of the program, students in the global learning community will study abroad. Two UT Tyler professors will accompany the students at a foreign site for their final classes.
At the end of the two-year program, the students will receive a co-curricular certificate and a stamp on their permanent transcript acknowledging they are globally competent.
“We are targeting freshman and sophomore students from all disciplines,” Dr. Haas said. “The students in GATE will be immersed for two years, kept together in their core courses. Some are GATE-designated courses with a cultural and global emphasis. When these students become juniors and seniors, they will have an impact across campus.”
Global Focus for Core Curriculum
“The core curriculum is the in-class component and will impact all students on campus,” Dr. Sterken said. “We are changing our existing core classes – English, political science, history, math, government – and any others that faculty want to implement, to have a global view. The professors are re-tooling the classes so they will have a global theme to them while teaching the same skills. This will start this fall.”
Professors from across campus began attending workshops this past summer and will continue throughout the year to learn how to implement the global focus in their classrooms. More than 100 faculty will be working through the workshops over the 2010-2011 academic year.
“All students in their freshmen and sophomore years will be exposed to global perspectives, even if they never leave East Texas,” Dr. Sterken said.
In addition to the global learning community immersion program, the university will offer more students the opportunity to study abroad through scholarships and other learning programs.
“This year we sent 110 students to study abroad,” Dr. Sterken said. “By year five (2015), we hope to send 400-500 students for international study each year. When you live abroad, it changes who you are and how you see others.”
Study abroad is one of the most exciting benefits of GATE for many students, he said. “It’s hard to describe what international education does. It accomplishes what we hope classroom education does, but a lot faster. When we put students in another location, it seems that perspectives change quickly.”
GATE also will play a role in visiting scholar presentations, faculty exchanges and even more international study programs, Dr. Krebbs noted.
The possibilities are endless.
“There have been so may ideas for GATE and some were student-driven – an international film festival and food day, Tuesday talks, and something as simple as taking an engine apart and labeling where all the parts originated,’’ said Dr. Haas. “We are truly changing the culture on campus and, by doing that, changing students.”