Illustration of Stephen Appiah-Padi
Illustration: Joel Kimmel
Stephen Appiah-Padi

Bringing the World to Bucknell

by Brooke Thames

As director of Bucknell’s Office of Global & Off-campus Education, Stephen Appiah-Padi understands the importance of mapping a travel plan, because “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there.” That’s the idea behind Bucknell’s new Internationalization Lab, a committee of faculty and staff working to chart a coordinated, futuristic path toward achieving Bucknell’s vision of becoming a more global institution. Appiah-Padi is one of the passionate committee members leading the charge.

How do you define global education and why is it important that Bucknell students be ready to live and work as “global citizens”?

Global education is teaching and learning that focuses on the complex interrelationships between various people, traditions, cultures, civilizations and religions — as well as geographic entities that have informed and continue to inform our understanding of the world we live in.

Globalization as an economic phenomenon has played a large part in breaking down past barriers between nations. The world is becoming more connected every day; yet with the destruction of old barriers, new ones arise — mainly because of inequities in the system of globalization. It would be a great disservice to not focus on teaching students about the complexities of modern-day intranational and international relations or to not equip them with the skills to function within those dynamics.

There’s no better way to do this than by working with our own diverse student, faculty and staff populations on campus, and tailoring our academic and administrative practices to reflect the kind of knowledge, skills and perspectives that will serve our students as they enter the world post-Bucknell. Global education is now an educational imperative, not a choice.

How will the Internationalization Lab further Bucknell’s aspiration of becoming more global in its operations across campus?

The major goal is to enhance teaching and learning in the context of our globalized world so that our students are better prepared to live and work as global citizens. Under the guidance of the American Council on Education — and with a cohort of 13 other institutions — the Internationalization Lab will launch a two-year process of self-reflection and analysis to develop action plans for academic and administrative policies and practices. Overall, we’re seeking to move closer to our aspiration to bring Bucknell to the world, and the world to Bucknell.

What will the two-year self-reflection examine?

We’ll be taking a detailed look at our efforts to make education more international, many of which are currently unseen or siloed. Conducting a University-wide review and analysis will enable us to bring these efforts to light, articulate an institutional vision for international education and devise a globalization strategy oriented toward that vision.

At the end of the process, which disciplines, institutes and programs will see new or increased globalization initiatives?

Because students cultivate knowledge and skills through all of their experiences on campus, the initiative will affect all facets of the institution — from academics and experiential learning opportunities to administrative operations. Creating the optimal environment for students to grow into global citizens requires us to collectively channel our focus into making Bucknell more international.

So far, the Internationalization Lab committee has met with various administrative and academic departments, engaged faculty through the Teaching & Learning Center’s Faculty Learning Series, held focus groups with international students, and deployed a survey to students, faculty and staff.

How do you hope your work will impact students?

As the committee engages with students and learns from their experiences, we hope to develop actionable steps to address the challenges of ensuring a global experience for students at Bucknell — for instance, the development of policies that allow full access to study abroad and a campus environment that better supports international students. Best of all, we hope that the initiative will transform the University into a truly globalized environment for teaching and learning that prepares our graduates for the world that awaits.