Spending time abroad helps teacher educators expand their knowledge of other countries and cultures, as well as build relationships and explore common research interests with colleagues outside the United States. Faculty involved in international initiatives often become committed to them and maintain international connections, which can enrich the education of pre-service teachers. Instructors who travel are more likely to encourage students to do so.
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s (AACTE) Committee on Global Diversity encourages the development of teacher education practices to promote global perspectives. As part of its membership in the Japan–United States Teacher Education Consortium (JUSTEC), AACTE sponsors an annual seminar that convenes Japanese teacher educators and their counterparts from the United States . This seminar aims to promote understanding and collaborative research on education topics of interest in both countries. JUSTEC seminars alternate between the United States and Japan, and participation is open to university administrators and faculty, as well as graduate students.
The Higher Education for Development Program at the U.S. Agency for International Development links colleges and universities in this country with institutions of higher learning in developing nations. Programs such as these have historically included activities that increase the knowledge and skills of teacher preparation faculty as well as developing capacity in institutions abroad.
Faculty travel overseas for many reasons. Lecturing at conferences or participating in program development and evaluation does not necessarily result in greater global expertise, nor does it guarantee that courses taught on the home campus will help future teachers learn to teach about the world. For this reason, when the College of Education at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte awards faculty international travel grants through a competitive application process, the applicant must indicate how the travel relates to the College’s internationalization goals, including internationalization of the curriculum. The College also gives preference for faculty traveling abroad for the first time. Making course development or revision a condition of institutional support for international travel will ultimately increase the impact of faculty members’ international experiences on the future practice of the teacher candidates in their classes.
Various campuses across the United States also offer international experiences for faculty, some of which also allow students to join their educators. Northeastern State University in Oklahoma offers a two week academic exchange program for faculty and students in partnership with Rajamangala University of Technology in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The program grew out of a partnership that began when faculty and graduate students from the United States presented at a conference there.
Kent State University offers a series of experiences through its International Education Institute through the university's Florence campus. The courses are designed for faculty, teachers, and students, and focus on building intercultural competence in educational settings. The institute is comprised of two courses - "Design and Delivery of Study Abroad: While Studying Abroad" and "Intercultural Dimensions of Teaching and Learning" - both led by Kenneth Cushner, Director of the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching and Professor of Intercultural Education at Kent State.
At times, faculty members may want to organize a study abroad opportunity, but do not know where to start. Organizations like Bridge can provide support. Their staff work closely with faculty in any discipline - including education - to facilitate trips abroad that meet specific needs. Interested faculty can take advantage of Bridge's online tool to get started.