Saint Mary’s is recognized as Canada’s leading international university. The University has a strong commitment to internationalizing its community through the development of its overall teaching, research, service functions, and supports for student success. This environment provides exciting opportunities to advance the intercultural learning for both domestic students and international students by developing a deep understanding of cultural differences and underlying values.
The goal of the University is to support international and domestic students in their relationships and interactions with persons and groups of other cultures to cultivate global citizenship through practice and example.
Saint Mary’s is known for its excellent support services for international students in Canada. Over 32 per cent of its students arrive from destinations beyond Canada, a proportion of international students not matched by any other university in this country. We are well known for international research collaborations, ranking first in Canada last year with our students and professors working with colleagues from Halifax to Helsinki, Antigua to Zimbabwe. With 44,000 alumni in over 110 countries, we have many actively engaged chapters from Calgary to Hong Kong.
We must focus on the value of an intercultural campus – we have built into our identity a strong intersection of cultures. We value the way in which our differences help us advance. We want to better understand the conceptual values of cultural intersection and what this does for ideas and change. We have the opportunity to address issues of our time. Our curriculum is already very good at doing this but how do we further advance?
During the President's consultation sessions in October and November 2015, these questions were posed to the participants:
- How else can our students, faculty and staff experience internationalization?
- How do we create a truly intercultural campus?
Key themes and ideas
- Pair international students with host families or mentors
- Help support international students to be more involved in class
- Promote interaction across cultural groups
- Support integration with more creative use of space
- Support international student goals to stay in Canada – offer more help through career services
- Offer resources for intercultural training – for students and faculty
- Faculty should assign group projects to diverse groups – expose students to new ways of learning and working together
- Foster cross-cultural collaboration
- Highlight the benefits of intercultural university experience and a global view
- Support visiting professors/exchanges
- Have more peer mentors for first year and transfer students
Opportunities – Events and Education
- Have study abroad programs more supported in terms of academic integration (make the credits transferable back to SMU)
- Create events for international students, welcome the external community, employees, potential donors
- Diversify recruitment efforts
- Create more scholarship programs for disadvantaged students
- Extend the classroom into the community at large
- Celebrate holidays by inviting students to experience other cultural moments, include employees, external community
- Create more opportunities to discuss the importance/benefit of an intercultural campus
- Develop venues to discuss different beliefs and values
- Pedagogical development opportunities for faculty - especially new faculty
- Promote Safe At SMU workshops
- Have international campus challenge
- Celebrate and nurture success of international students
- Create more awareness about studying abroad