How can educators better prepare community college students to engage with the world? Over the last year, 11 community college faculty participating in Stanford’s Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) fellowship program explored ways to address this critical question.
The fellowship program, led by Stanford Global Studies in partnership with the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, helps community college faculty incorporate global perspectives and intercultural learning into their courses in the form of innovative curricular materials, extra-academic programs, and digital learning resources.
Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, the fellows met virtually each month and attended seminars taught by Stanford scholars as they worked collaboratively on projects that spanned disciplines, from public health and sociology to photography and art history.
“Participating in this program reinvigorated my teaching about global issues and allowed me to creatively redesign components of my curriculum,” said fellow Melissa King, assistant professor of anthropology at San Bernardino Valley College.
The fellowship culminated in a virtual symposium in May, which was attended by more than 60 faculty and staff from universities and community colleges in California and beyond. Throughout the event, participants discussed the opportunities and challenges of internationalizing curricula at community colleges.
Cheryl Gibbs, senior director of the Office of International and Foreign Language Education in the U.S. Department of Education, opened the symposium with a keynote address. “In more recent years, the 9/11 terrorist attack, migration crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic have brought into stark relief the relevance of international education and the need to continuously strengthen the infrastructure and pathways that help prepare Americans and diverse sectors to engage with the world,” she emphasized in her opening remarks.
Addressing the fellows directly, she said, “What you have produced speaks to your integrity and commitment to international education, students, and your core values. In reading your bios and the descriptions of your curriculum projects, it is abundantly clear that you are not only a community of practice but a community of interest and action. Congratulations on your achievement; you are making a difference locally, nationally, and globally.”
Following the keynote, the fellows had the opportunity to present their final projects. EPIC fellow Maiya Evans, adjunct professor at Skyline College, challenged her class to reimagine public health. She developed a roundtable series that invited students to “reshape and rethink our approaches to health and health care in the United States by borrowing from public health methodologies from other nations.”
Another project by Ron Herman, professor of photography at Foothill College, looked at how photographs have the power to shape public perception. “I developed a learning unit and group project for students to learn about the postcard era, printing techniques, photographers, and artistic conventions used to create racial stereotype images,” Herman explained. Students in his class examined how postcards from the early 1900s of San Francisco’s Chinatown were used to spread negative stereotypes about Chinese Americans. They then “drew parallels between the postcard craze of the early 1900s and the important role visual social media platforms play in today’s society” in spreading harmful messages about minorities.
Looking back on his experience as a fellow, Herman said he most enjoyed having the opportunity to hear from guest speakers who covered diverse topics and discussed how to expand international learning opportunities in the classroom. “Not only were they interesting but they got me thinking of new ways of teaching and engaging students,” he shared.
“My favorite part about being a fellow was having a solid, supportive group of both Stanford professionals and other EPIC fellows around me as a sounding board,” added Rebecca Nieman, professor of law at San Diego Mesa College. “It was an environment that promoted creativity and innovation.”
The Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) provides professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and community college instructors and professors and is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant. Collaborators include the Stanford Global Studies Division, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), and the Stanford Graduate School of Education's Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET).