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The Center for Global Interaction
The Center for Global Interaction is the newest of Hiram College’s eight Centers of Distinction, each developing on an area of study in which the College has a long, well-established tradition of academic excellence. The new Center is built on our long-standing strength and commitment to fostering global perspectives through international-related coursework in multiple disciplines and, especially, through our over 65 years of experience with traveling abroad with our students. The mission: “To encourage, coordinate and publicize explorations of the intersections of language study, international understanding and students traveling abroad or coming from abroad to enrich Hiram College’s learning environment. Through global engagement our students acquire knowledge in order to bridge differences and address complex global issues of our times.”
“We want alumni to share their stories, to come back and talk with our students, to offer their services or financial assistance to the College or this Center. We want to really involve as many people who have a love, fascination or history of globalizing Hiram College to come forth and be a part of it.”
– Lisa Safford, interim director
History and Tradition Building the Future
The Center is closely linked with Hiram’s long-standing study abroad program, which dates back nearly 100 years into the 1930s. In the 1950s, History and political science professor Dr. Albert Levy led students on a trip that sailed from New York to London aboard the Queen Elisabeth. The group visited England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Since that time, Hiram faculty have led students in study on six continents, with current programs visiting Australia, Bhutan, Chile, Dominican Republic, France, the Galapagos Islands, India, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom. But the global travel isn’t just one way. For decades, Hiram has attracted international students who have come to our hilltop campus from all over the planet, including, among many others:
The Center for Global Interaction formalizes and builds on practices and philosophies that have already become ingrained in Hiram College. Specifically, the Center strives to provide an education that fosters an understanding of complexities across cultural and geographical realms, promoting the ability to work through the limitations of language and cultural difference. It encourages, enables and publicizes the intersections of language study, people traveling from Hiram, through study away and scholarship – and people coming to Hiram, both in the form of international students and scholars and speakers.
The Center has specific and ambitious goals for the future. These are:
Why the Center for Global Interaction? “The development of this Center finally came to fruition last spring, and we’re very excited about it. Hiram has such a long and very successful history of integrating the College with the world, even though we are a small school and fairly isolated on our hill, we still have made it our business for a very long time to engage our students with the larger world. In fact, Jennifer Morrow, our archivist, tells me we actually have had faculty taking our students abroad even longer than we thought. I thought our earliest program was in 1950; she’s finding evidence it was even earlier, in the ’30s. Our first travel abroad trip was in 1937 to Peru.”
– Lisa Safford, interim director
Emerging Global Leaders Program
The Emerging Global Leaders Program is a competitive program involving a select group of students who have aspirations to become tomorrow’s global leaders. Coordinated by the Center for Global Interaction, students will experience transformative learning based on experiential and action-based research.
This scholars program will include opportunities to invite and host campus speakers, select a paid internship, craft parts of an extensive service-learning based study abroad experience, and much more.
Emerging Global Leaders will be especially focused on addressing the global issues of our times. They will take the lead in determining what issues to investigate leading to a collaborative capstone experience connecting their chosen disciplinary major with critical global issues of the 21st century. Such issues cross many disciplinary boundaries and might include water scarcity, soil erosion, global warming, failing states, shifting food resources, social justice, economic inequities, religious and racial conflict, censorship, artistic looting and cultural heritage preservation.
Because of the group dynamic of the capstone projects, students will build skills of collaboration and cooperation by modeling partnerships that construct new knowledge, relationships and new ways of working as professionals.
All The World’s a Stage
Though still in its infancy, the Center for Global Interaction has strong and mature roots, is growing from programs and pedagogies already integral to the College, and embracing ambitious goals. It seems a natural evolution, though; Hiram Hill has always had a worldwide view.
“We are entering into a partnership with the Peace Corps, so students who go through this Peace Corps track at Hiram receive a certificate denoting they’ve completed the program,” says Interim Director Lisa Safford. “It’s very selective. Hiram is one of only 14 colleges and universities nationally that have been been accepted into the Peace Corps Prep Program.”
Safford believes the Peace Corps selected Hiram in part because the College already has such a strong history of taking a global view and educating its students beyond the little hilltop in Northeast Ohio. In addition to its extensive study abroad program, Hiram has exchange programs in Japan (Kansai Gaidai), Turkey (Bosphorus University) and Italy (John Cabot University).
Several Hiram College departments work closely with the Center for Global Interaction, including: