University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Chancellor Laurence Alexander wants the institution to expand its horizons to an international scope.
Speaking at a UAPB Global River Basin Initiative symposium in the campus’ historic Caldwell Hall on Thursday morning, Alexander said that in addition to a vibrant faculty, Arkansas’ second-oldest state university counts some of “the brightest students who can stand shoulder-to-shoulder” with any of the world’s finest. He believes UAPB has a duty to prepare its students to help them and others succeed in a global society.
Along with giving Alexander an opportunity to outline his vision for UAPB’s global expansions, the symposium provided UAPB’s Office of International Programs and Studies an occasion to update advances in its three-year building grant program titled “From the Mississippi Delta to the Niger Delta: Strengthening Teaching and Extension Capacity at UAPB to Enhance International Programming in a Changing and Dynamic Local, Regional and Global Context.”
The program received a $600,000 grant in September 2012 from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The award supported designated activities consistent with the following objectives of establishing:
• A cross-disciplinary working group reflective of academic programs that will engage in scholarly and experimental learning activities, focusing on global trends and developments impacting the agriculture sector and rural communities in the Lower Mississippi River Basin;
• A faculty-led study abroad program incorporating topics relevant to food, agriculture and environmental sciences; and
• A sustainable international extension program through the formation of working partnerships and execution of a memorandum of understanding and funding/technical assistance for a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder rural development project in the Niger River Basin of West Africa.
Alexander said Thursday that he would expect a faculty-led effort to formulate major and minor degree fields in foreign languages at UAPB. Also on the radar are possible international studies internships, short-term projects and cross-country student travel opportunities.
International engagement is critical, Alexander said, as graduates today must be prepared as “global participants” who can understand world events, comprehend world developments in their major fields of study, understand foreign languages and communications and obtain developmental experience outside the United States.
Alexander termed studying abroad “a challenging adventure.” He said “faculty and staff must lead by example” in international studies at UAPB.