Diversity and Democracy

Home and Away: An Engaged Institution’s Continuing Commitment to Global Learning

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic interrupts community-based learning and other programs on campuses around the world, including at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), it is also clearly demonstrating why global and civic learning are fundamentally intertwined and why educators cannot successfully steward the one without conscientiously attending to the other.

In recent years, IUPUI, located in downtown Indianapolis, has integrated civic engagement and internationalization experiences across the curriculum and recommitted to prioritizing global learning as part of its efforts toward comprehensive internationalization. This overarching commitment to an “internationalized stewardship of urban place,” a phrase coined by Latz, Sutton, and Hill (2014), defines the university as a mutual partner in a community ecosystem alongside other institutions and groups, guided by, and in conversation with, community priorities and concerns.  

This stewardship mindset extends to lasting relationships with institutional partners both at home and abroad. IUPUI’s Global Gateway Network offices in Thailand, China, Europe, India, and Mexico, for example, offer sites for cross-border faculty collaboration and student learning opportunities. The offices also convene partners to provide strategic direction to each region’s global economy. In Indiana, IUPUI collaborates with communities such as the Burmese community on the Southside of Indianapolis, with faculty and students working with local organizations on resettlement, citizenship education, English as a second language tutoring, college preparation, and other issues affecting Burmese residents.

Global Learning for All

One of the engaged campus strategies that Latz and colleagues (2014) recommend is instituting global learning for all, regardless of major, and connecting such learning experiences to professional practice and community development. IUPUI has long committed to offering students educationally meaningful opportunities to become civic-minded professionals by learning with and from local communities to improve our shared quality of life, including through service-based scholarship programs, community-based work study, and service-learning courses. But we still have work to do to support all students in understanding local civic experiences as the interplay of global forces and to pursue that understanding through study abroad participation (IUPUI Study Abroad Advisory Committee 2016; Price et al. 2015). At IUPUI, 41 percent of the student body is eligible for Pell grants, and about 28 percent identify as first-generation college students. Students in both of these groups often face financial and other obstacles to studying abroad. Additionally, IUPUI’s high concentration of professional degree programs, such as nursing and education, have strict requirements that make fitting in international learning experiences challenging.

While the pandemic has interrupted our expansion of access to both study abroad and global learning opportunities at home, it has also provided a shared filter through which to inquire into the integrative complexities of these experiences and to take action. For example, a student service project to sew surgical masks takes on global meaning in light of gaps in the global supply chain for personal protective equipment for medical professionals. Such a project is an opportunity to learn about the policies, practices, and advocacy needed to address the lack of supplies. The pandemic has also illustrated the centrality of ethical practice in human relationships and governance, and IUPUI’s toolkit for enhancing ethical community engagement provides educators with a collection of resources to draw on as we ultimately emerge from the pandemic and work to strengthen the intersections between global and civic learning. (Learn more at http://abroad.iupui.edu.)

Intentional Global Learning

The IUPUI Dimensions of Global Learning are a tool to develop more intentionally global and intercultural curricular and cocurricular experiences. A full-time director of curriculum internationalization in the Office of International Affairs (OIA) helps faculty and staff incorporate a global perspective into the curriculum and cocurriculum. OIA also contributes resources to promote global and civic engagement, including symposia and faculty retreats like the Plater Institute on the Future of Learning’s fall retreat on “Improving Your Cultural IQ: Ideas and Tools for Engaging the International Student Community.” In addition, OIA offers professional development opportunities on such topics as the basics of curriculum internationalization, the pedagogy of virtual exchange, and the National Survey of Student Engagement’s Global Learning Model. In partnership with the Office of Community Engagement, OIA supports other internationalization activities like engaging with global companies and providing educational support to families through the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis.

Through OIA, IUPUI participates in the US State Department’s Diplomacy Lab, which challenges faculty and students to address foreign policy issues, such as environmental pollution, counterterrorism, and anticorruption reform. IUPUI faculty and students have tackled challenges posed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency to prevent extremism and stop groups from recruiting radicals online. Faculty and students have also studied how the European Union is working to curb the spread of misinformation, with the goal of proposing steps to help people recognize disinformation campaigns.

For the past five years, IUPUI has hosted the IU Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute for the US State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa participate in academic coursework, leadership training, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement.

More Inclusive Study Abroad

In response to findings from a campus study on student participation in study abroad (IUPUI Study Abroad Committee 2016), we have made headway in removing barriers such as cost and lack of time in course schedules. With 640 IUPUI students studying abroad in more than forty countries in 2018–19 (a 10 percent increase in participation over the previous year), the following strategies were bearing fruit up until the pandemic:

1. Alleviating barriers to funding: A Study Abroad Planning Scholarship allows students with financial need to apply within their first or second semester on campus for study abroad funding before they have identified their desired program, thus allowing for improved planning. The program includes mentorship as students choose an international experience.

2. Using data and building networks to develop culturally responsive strategies: In 2018–19, the Study Abroad for All discussion series began as a way to bring together students, faculty, and university leadership to better understand and support student populations typically underrepresented in study abroad, including African American students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, men, first-generation students, Latinx students, and student veterans. The discussion series has allowed us to build deeper relationships with campus support units, such as the LGBTQ Center, Multicultural Center, Greek Life, and Adaptive Educational Services, and has resulted in working groups to implement strategies for increasing study abroad participation. In addition, the Study Abroad Office has started remote advising and information sessions on topics like buying a plane ticket or getting a passport.

3. Increasing study abroad offerings in general education: IUPUI has worked to increase the number of faculty-led study abroad programs that include a general education course, including Multicultural and Global Awareness, Beginning Drawing, History of Architecture, and Introduction to Sustainable Principles and Practices.

Deepening Relationships

IUPUI continues to explore ways to support students who want to study abroad. We are also expanding global learning opportunities on campus and in the local communities, which is especially important with the pandemic limiting international travel. By focusing on deepening relationships that have already been built, we are offering virtual exchange opportunities, such as partnering with Moi University in Kenya to improve the health of Kenyans, particularly through the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Striving for excellence as an internationalized steward of urban place calls us to think imaginatively about how we work together as a campus to integrate, align, and deepen our work in ways that not only support our academic mission but also serve the interests and varied priorities of host communities and partners.


IUPUI Study Abroad Advisory Committee. 2016. Study Abroad at IUPUI: A White Paper. https://international.iupui.edu/doc/partnerships/study-abroad-IUPUI-whitepaper.pdf.

Latz, Gil, Susan Buck Sutton, and Barbara Hill. 2014. “An Internationalized Stewardship of Urban Places.” Metropolitan Universities 25 (3): 83–98. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1092782.pdf.

Price, Mary F., Julie A. Hatcher, Dawn Michele Whitehead, and Gil Latz. 2015. “Using a Partnership Approach in Study Abroad: Implications and Strategies for Program Design and Assessment.” In Assessing Study Abroad: Theory, Tools, and Practice, edited by Victor Savicki and Elizabeth Brewer, 277–93. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Amy Conrad Warner is Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI); Mary F. Price is Director of Faculty Development at the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning; Leslie A. Bozeman is Director of Curriculum Internationalization at the IUPUI Office of International Affairs; and Stephanie Leslie is Director of Study Abroad at the IUPUI Office of International Affairs.

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