Skip to:Main Content

Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University Campus Image

Strategic Initiative for Global Learning

Update - October 2013

What exactly is "the global learning initiative"?

In 2008, President Ruscio and then Provost Aprille invited Laurent Boetsch to help the university think strategically about global learning in the overall context of a Washington and Lee education. The effort was meant to ensure the fulfillment of that part of W&L's Mission Statement that promises that our graduates "will be prepared for engagement in a diverse and global society".

The plan itself was two years in the making and involved the participation of more than 120 students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of the university. The final recommendations were presented to the faculty and the administration in the fall of 2010 and were enthusiastically endorsed.

How is the Strategic Plan to be implemented?

The recommendations foresaw a gradual implementation of the Plan over a 7-10 year period divided into three separate but overlapping phases: 1) the Consolidation Phase; 2) the Developmental Phase, and; 3) the Visionary phase.

The Consolidation Phase (2010-13) was meant to bring together the various threads of global learning that were already present in discrete sectors but which were too often disconnected and therefore limited to the experience of some students and some faculty. This period saw the elaboration of a structure for global learning that defines common goals and objectives specific to the values of a W&L education and the building of a firm structure to support subsequent phases.

The Developmental Phase (2013-2017) will see the seamless infusion of global learning goals and objectives into the curriculum across the disciplines and will provide new opportunities for collaboration among the College, the Williams School and the School of Law in the pursuit of their fulfillment.

The Visionary Phase (2016 -) aims to see the energy and aims of global learning coherently infused into a Washington and Lee education and will include a facility, the Center for Global Learning which will act as the hub for the on-going development of global learning both in terms of curricular and co-curricular activity across the three schools that make up the university, a "window on the world" from Lexington.

What happened during the Consolidation Phase?

This phase concentrated on efforts to combine and strengthen those aspects of internationalism that already existed on campus with new initiatives in those same areas that corresponded to the overall objectives of the strategic plan for global learning. Examples of what was accomplished include: 1) The creation of the Global Service House, a residential theme house for international and domestic students who share a common interest in internationalism and service. The GSH also serves as the permanent home of the Campus Kitchen project; 2) The establishment of a higher profile for internationalism on campus through drawing attention to internationally oriented events, re-working admissions materials aimed at international students and potential applicants interested in internationalism, presentations to student and alumni and parent groups, increased presence of internationalism at W&L in publications and the university website, etc.; 3) The development of new ways to think about study and student experience abroad to integrate it into the overall student academic and non-academic W&L education. This includes the creation of the International Immersion Certificate to recognize those students who, during their four years, have learned to adapt and accommodate fully to a different cultural environment and support for student on-campus initiatives to infuse internationalism into campus life; 4) The establishment of Faculty Liaisons to help promote academic objectives for global learning across the disciplines; 5) The initiation of new efforts of collaboration among the College, the Williams School and the School of Law to enhance global learning for both faculty and students.

What is planned for the Developmental Phase?

The Developmental Phase is that critical period that will see the seamless integration of global learning objectives and strategies into the classroom so that future generations of W&L students will be distinguished by their capacity to fulfill the promise of our Mission. This will primarily take place with the support of a $577,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant focuses on the importance of preparation, enhancement and reflection on student study and experience abroad, the integration of global learning outcomes across the disciplines, faculty and curricular development, the establishment of institutional partnerships around the world, and the development of W&L as a recognized leader in global education.

What is the main aspect of the Visionary Phase?

A complete renovation of duPont Hall and a new addition will house the Center for Global Learning, a facility being designed specifically to accommodate the goals and objectives of global learning across the schools and disciplines and to include: nine new classrooms, office space for the departments of East Asian Languages and Literatures and German/Russian,the Center for International Education and visiting international faculty; facilities for foreign language learning, a multi-resource laboratory for the development of innovative courses to include global learning outcomes, and technology that will connect students and faculty to the world in real time; common spaces for group work, study and conversation; a two-story atrium space that will allow visitors to walk from campus into the world and that will host public events with international content ranging from student presentations to international dinners; an adjacent courtyard/garden area designed to suggest the diversity of world cultures and appropriate as meeting space or outdoor events. The CGL will be in every way a truly university facility to be shared by students and faculty from our three schools as well as alumni and visitors to campus and will be the campus hub that connects each aspect of internationalism on campus as well as W&L to the world beyond Lexington.

How will the Global Learning Initiative strengthen a Washington and Lee education?

The GLI is meant to provide the University with a plan for an innovative, coherent, and comprehensive program in international education that will prepare our students for the specific challenges of the 21st century. In order to succeed it is necessary to integrate the tenets of global learning and engagement into every level of a W&L education: from recruitment of new students to alumni relations; from curricular reform to improvement in the quality of student life; from the nurture of a knowledgeable and engaged faculty to a visible institutional commitment to internationalism. When that commitment is truly realized through the implementation of the plan, then the process will be transformational. It will imply a twenty-first century definition of the liberal arts and it will ensure that a W&L education will, in fact, produce the leaders of the "diverse and global society" that our Mission promises.