Lehigh University's International Strategic Planning in a Dynamic Global Landscape

Friday, 14 February 2014
Grand Ballroom C North (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Alice Gast , Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
American research universities are undergoing major philosophical and practical changes in their international engagement strategies. It is imperative that we properly prepare our students to be productive members of the rapidly evolving global society. At Lehigh University, for example, internationalism is fundamental to our educational mission. Lehigh has long offered a global education, but we wanted to do more. Our goals and challenges, like those of our peer institutions, revolve around both importing scholars from other nations and cultures to our community and exporting our students to experience global opportunities. My own international work has taken me to Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the UK, and Japan, among other places; everywhere I go, there is a need and a desire for academic collaboration and international engagement. Universities can be hubs of this kind of global entrepreneurship, but it is a delicate balance sustaining our local communities while also satisfying our global initiatives.

 In 2007, we developed our strategy for “Getting to Global Lehigh” with the aim of creating a true global culture on campus. We want internationalism to flow not only from formal instruction but also from day-to-day conversations, associations and friendships. This includes providing meaningful international experiences for our students and welcoming more international students and visitors to our university. We provide a menu of programs that allow our students opportunities to study, work, and conduct research abroad. For example, in 2011 a challenge grant from alumnus Lee Iacocca formed the Iacocca International Internships for Global Leadership, which provides students the opportunity to pursue an internship in their area of study in a corporation, university or service organization while immersed in another culture. Lehigh’s strengths in Science Technology and Innovation also play a key role in our international strategy. We are extending our leadership in STI through international research and education as the dynamic global STI enterprise continues to change.