The Global Education Office is facilitating funding opportunities in support of study abroad scholarships for students and the development of new global and intercultural learning opportunities in Blacksburg or around the world.

Funded by the Executive Vice President and Provost’s office, the Program Development Grants will support faculty members looking to design or revitalize their global-at-home or study abroad courses. The Global Education Office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, will issue up to seven grants of up to $5,000 for course creation or up to $3,000 for a revision. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15.

For faculty members who want to redesign their Blacksburg-based classes, the proposed curriculum should challenge and inspire students through personal, active, and meaningful intercultural exchange. Those interested in revising study abroad programs should focus their curriculum on increasing access, inclusion, and belonging for underrepresented and underserved student populations.

“This funding creates an opportunity for significant impact on students’ access to global and intercultural learning experiences,” Global Education Office Director Theresa Johansson said. “We’re focusing on bridging gaps for students who have previously not engaged with global learning on campus or abroad. The most effective way of doing this is, first, to support and guide the faculty who are designing study abroad and global-at-home courses and, second, to expand study abroad scholarships.”

Supporting student study abroad

Part of the funding provided by the provost’s office will go directly into office’s Study Abroad Scholarship fund, which provides up to $5,000 to students who would otherwise be unable to travel abroad without financial support.

The funding undergirds GEO’s existing scholarship processes. Last year alone, GEO provided more than $500,000 in scholarships. Its staff also works with partners across the university to assist students in coordinating financial aid for international study.

Studying abroad is a key part of the Virginia Tech experience, and ensuring that all students, regardless of income, have access to such transformational opportunities is among the goals of Virginia Tech Advantage.

Encouraging more students to study abroad — and encouraging more faculty members to develop study abroad experiences — are also components of Virginia Tech Global Distinction, a broad push to elevate the university’s worldwide impact and standing.

“Bringing together local and global communities and expertise to expand intercultural teaching and learning efforts also aligns with our Beyond Boundaries vision and commitment to InclusiveVT,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for outreach and international affairs. “Virginia Tech is a global campus, and through global curriculum design efforts and augmenting scholarship funding for study abroad, we can amplify the impact of global education.”

University collaboration

The funds were derived from 4-VA, a partnership between Virginia Tech and seven other universities across the commonwealth.

4-VA was established in 2010 based on recommendations from the Governor’s Higher Education Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Economic Development and Job Creation. It aims to foster collaborations that leverage the strengths of each university and improve efficiencies in education across Virginia.

At Virginia Tech, 4-VA grants are managed by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) and the provost’s office. More information on open calls for proposals for 4-VA grants is available on the partnership’s website.

Consistent with the expanded learning opportunity priorities of the 4-VA initiative, global learning grant funds will support faculty members in using innovative technologies to bring the world into their classrooms. Once the funded initiatives have been realized, participants will share their approaches with other 4-VA members to promote and encourage both access for underrepresented student groups and innovation through technology.

“The funding provided to support expansion of the work of the Global Education Office will result in valuable information, lessons learned, and potential models for consideration by other 4-VA institutions across the state,” said Lujean Baab, senior director of grants and awards at TLOS.

4-VA funds support four goals: collaborative research, emerging tools, course and program development, and expanded learning opportunities. The Global Education Office was invited to apply for the 4-VA funding because of its consistent work in program development and expanded learning opportunities within the scope of global engagement.

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