Interdisciplinary Exploration of Global Issues

An innovative Hope College initiative enabled 50 faculty members to travel internationally in teams over the past 18 months to interact with scholars in other nations about complex global problems.

“The impact on faculty is just tremendous,” says Dr. Deirdre Johnston, interim associate dean for global education, who co-directed the Hope Portals to the World program with Dr. Annie Dandavati, professor of political science. “I believe that absolutely every academic discipline has a need to engage with how globalization is changing what we have taught in that discipline.”

The Portal to the World twist has been for faculty from a mix of disciplines to go abroad together following a semester of reading about and discussing their team’s focus and the history, politics and economy of the nation they would visit, sharing perspectives informed by their academic fields.

Many returned to Michigan with strengthened networks for collaborative research and globally connected courses.

For instance, Dr. Phillip Rivera has a grant proposal underway with a fellow biologist in Ecuador. Psychologist Dr. Alyssa Cheadle plans to trade data with a sociologist and an economist in India to broaden her research sample for investigation of religiousness and well-being. Mathematician Dr. Airat Betmetjev gained new insight from researchers in China, which he’s leveraging for computationally complex tasks in his work on statistical projects.

Hope Portal to the World study travel was underwritten by a grant from the Great Lakes Colleges Association Global Crossroads program, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative concludes this semester with the final team’s participation in a Paris conference on the Armenian genocide. All told, 11 teams will have visited 11 nations on four continents to explore issues ranging from scientific research to human embodiment through sport and art.

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