Going Global

International programs bring the world closer for students and faculty

Photo: Mike Peters

The Chinese Festival’s Chief Curator Zhiyuan Cong (left) with visiting Chinese artists Sun Yumin and Wang Huangsheng.

Montclair State’s ties to the global community are growing stronger every year, with expanding overseas partnerships and an increasing number of students and faculty coming from abroad.

Last year, nearly 220 Montclair State students traveled to 25 countries on study-abroad programs, while 70 faculty members engaged in research and program development overseas. At the same time, 85 international scholars and more than 750 students came to campus from outside the United States.

In addition, 17 Fulbright Scholars—exceptional graduate students from around the world—have chosen to continue their studies at Montclair State in 2011-12. This is the largest number in University history, and is indicative of Montclair’s growing reputation for excellence in the global community.

Beginning this fall, the University is offering a dual-degree bachelor’s program for Korean students in cooperation with Seoul National University of Science and Technology in Seoul, South Korea. Korean students first spend two years at Seoul Tech then two years at Montclair State to earn degrees in either industrial design or business from both institutions. “This is something we plan to expand in the future because of the demand for American degrees from international universities,” Cunningham notes.

Through the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State has also forged relationships with many of the world’s top conservatories, including the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory in Russia; the Milan Verdi Conservatory in Italy; the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary; and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.

“As the world grows smaller, it is very important for our students to learn the perspective of other musical cultures,” says Ruth Rendleman, interim director of the Cali School. “These partnerships give students from New Jersey a unique opportunity to study at renowned conservatories abroad, and also help Montclair State attract students from those conservatories to study here.”

Another popular international program is Teaching in English, which leverages the growing trend toward using English as the worldwide language of instruction. “Our aim is to help faculty members at foreign universities improve and strengthen their English skills,” says Longxing Wei, a professor of linguistics who co-directs the program. Since 2005, about 45 Montclair State professors have taught subject-specific English skills at six universities in China, South Korea, Austria, and Mexico.

On-campus programs also promote greater exposure to foreign cultures. For example, Tea and Talk is a forum for roundtable dialogues on international issues between visiting scholars and Montclair State faculty, and the Forum on International Issues lecture series brings scholars and other experts to the campus to discuss international issues with a broader audience.

Plans are underway to present a festival highlighting the arts and culture of the Muslim world in 2012. The event follows a tradition that was established in 2006 with the presentation of The Hungarian Festival of Arts and Humanities, followed by an Italian Festival in 2008 and a Chinese Festival in 2010. 

“It’s a very timely subject,” Cunningham says. “We plan to focus on programs that encourage cross-cultural understanding, and bring attention to the grassroots efforts that have been made to bring about change and attain a sense of justice in the Muslim world.”

All of these efforts enrich the experience of students, scholars, and alumni in the Montclair State community. “To be an educated citizen today, you need to understand global systems and societies,” Cunningham says. “By offering an array of international programs in which they can participate, the Global Education Center helps students connect to a changing world.”