In today’s “Five Minutes with SOURCE,” Vice Provost for International Affairs Kathleen Fairfax sat down to discuss her role in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan and its impact across Colorado State University.
As Vice Provost for International Affairs at CSU, you oversee our Office of International Programs, with a goal of promoting cross-cultural understanding through high-impact learning and community engagement in support of CSU’s land grant mission. How does Courageous Strategic Transformation speak to the mission of your office and your team, particularly in terms of our Strategic Priority of Impact?
I think the mission of the Office of International Programs speaks right to the heart of Courageous Strategic Transformation. The plan has global interconnectedness and impact woven throughout it. Both the Office of International Programs and Courageous Strategic Transformation emphasize that it is not enough to talk about global challenges; we have to act, to have an impact.
So we look for ways that the global connections we are building will actually make the world a better place. An example of this is the recent grant we were awarded by the Institute of International Education, with funding from the U.S. Department of State. Through this grant, the International Programs office is partnering with CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability to host a summit on climate change and sustainability for 90 international scholars currently in the U.S. on Fulbright awards. CSU has such strength in the area of sustainability and working collaboratively with scholars from around the world will amplify our global impact in this crucial global challenge.
“I think the mission of the Office of International Programs speaks right to the heart of Courageous Strategic Transformation. The plan has global interconnectedness and impact woven throughout it. Both the Office of International Programs and Courageous Strategic Transformation emphasize that it is not enough to talk about global challenges; we have to act, to have an impact.”
Another of the Strategic Priorities of Courageous Strategic Transformation is People and Culture. Your team works closely with our international students, both undergraduate and graduate, who come from all over the world to CSU. How do these students contribute to our goal of a culture of excellence and inclusivity?
International students and scholars seek out CSU because of our globally known academic strengths. They are excellent students, and they come here knowing they will get a world-class education. In doing so, they provide an opportunity for learning and growth for the entire CSU community. Representing more than 100 countries, these students provide the Ram community a window to the world that would be hard to get any other way. International students are here to learn, but we can also learn a lot from them. They are our roommates and classmates, our neighbors and friends. They add tremendous diversity and richness to the fabric of the CSU community.
Among the Innovation priorities in Courageous Strategic Transformation is Social and Cultural Insight, which speaks directly to the mission and work of your office. What are some ways that OIP “foregrounds the crucial importance of a rich understanding of the histories, cultures, societies and languages that inform our complex and diverse world”?
There’s no better example of this than our Education Abroad program. We organize, facilitate, monitor and promote a wide range of programs through which CSU students are able to spend time learning in another country and culture. By participating in an education abroad experience, CSU students are not only immersed in another culture and society, they also develop a greater awareness of their own backgrounds and cultural identities. And in doing so, they are better equipped to appreciate the rich complexities of our diverse world.
The Office of International Programs is holding your annual International Symposium this week, starting tomorrow and entirely virtual this year. Are there particular sessions or speaker conversations that you are excited about inviting the CSU community to attend?
Of course I’m biased, but I think the entire Symposium will be great! We have a wide range of topics being covered, from reporting on a study abroad program that looked at prosthetic innovations in Ecuador, to research for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, to peace education pedagogy.
We have a terrific keynote speaker in Lulu Garcia-Navarro, an award-winning journalist with The New York Times, formerly with NPR. And I am especially pleased to participate this year in a plenary discussion with Dr. Kauline Cipriani, CSU’s Vice President for Inclusive Excellence. Dr. Cipriani and I will discuss the ways in which our two areas—international and inclusive excellence—both overlap and complement each other. Dr. Cipriani has a very interesting personal and professional background, and I’m excited for the campus to hear her thoughts and reflections on this important topic.