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International Academy

Darsh WasanHow do you build future global leaders? Give them a global education.

For most universities, that may include teaching foreign languages or offering academic and volunteer opportunities abroad. While these efforts expose students to new cultures and ways of thinking, there are no programs in the United States that provide students a "holistic experience," says Darsh Wasan, IIT vice president of international affairs.

A component of the Many Voices, One Vision strategic plan, the IIT International Academy will become the country's signature international-education program for undergraduate and graduate students. The goal is to educate future global leaders who are not only proficient in their fields but also prepared for the demands of the global economy.

The concept of the IIT International Academy expands on the traditional residential college model, in which students with similar interests or academic majors live together. The academy will provide an environment in which international and American students from all majors can learn from each other informally in their daily lives. It will also provide an integrated program of leadership workshops, service projects, speakers, symposia, languageresources, and cultural events to help students expand their knowledge of multiple cultures and to give them a framework for reflection and discussion so they can begin to develop a global mindset.

"We expect that the academy will help us attract the top students from the U.S. and abroad," says Wasan.

As Wasan envisions it, the academy will be open to undergraduate and graduate students, and will provide competitive scholarships, co-op experience, and interdisciplinary research projects focused on major global issues. The academy will also facilitate exchanges in which students and faculty could conduct research and study or teach at partner universities abroad.

"The International Academy has the potential to continue the visionary work of Bob Galvin [IIT trustee and regent], who in the 1994 strategic plan, the National Commission for IIT, encouraged the university to focus its efforts internationally," says Wasan. "This program would allow IIT to take its global efforts to the next level."

The International Academy will build on IIT's strengths. Among U.S. universities, IIT currently enrolls the greatest percentage of international students; has offices in Paris, Beijing, Seoul, and Bangalore, India; and offers master's degree programs online in India. In 2001, the university established an International Board of Overseers, composed of global business leaders. The International Academy would also tap as a resource IIT's Leadership Academy, which provides developmental training for undergraduates with exceptional leadership potential.

President John Anderson has appointed a task force to help Wasan develop the International Academy. Wasan is also contacting executives of global companies to research the attributes they look for in future leaders, as well as working with students, alumni, and faculty to learn their views on the structure and facilities required of this new initiative.