Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


Increasing Internationalization On-Campus

July 20, 2021


As the return to campus for Fall ‘21 nears, many universities are still operating with precautionary measures, particularly when it comes to approving international travel. Some are allowing student travel to level three countries, whereas others are approving travel on a petition basis.

Despite the differences between international travel approval, one thing remains: international mobility is not in full swing just yet. And even as international travel picks up in volume, it’s important to remember that internationalization can occur without traditional forms of mobility.

Border Free GC
Georgia College & State University (GC) has been working on an initiative called Border Free GC, which is “an innovative framework for internationalization grounded in accessibility and inclusion” that “leverages the online environment to extend international opportunities.”

The initiative has two principal objectives:

  1. Enable every GC student to have an international experience prior to graduation.
  2. Enable GC faculty and staff to have access to international opportunities to enhance teaching methods, research opportunities, and their professional development.

The initiative works to unite GC students, faculty, and staff to the larger global community through programming in six key areas:

  • Border-free Study Abroad
  • Border-free Classroom
  • Border-free Academic Programming
  • Border-free Student Development
  • Border-free Faculty and Staff Professional Development
  • Border-free Community Enrichment

These six buckets can involve virtual study abroad programming, global partnerships, international festivals, events with international alumni, conferences and more ーall facilitated with the help of the GC International Education Center.

Creating Border Free GC
While the idea had been percolating for quite some time, it really started to come together when Liz Havey, Assistant Director of Education Abroad, and Dr. Emmanuel Little, Director of the GC AAMI & Call Me MiSTER Programs began to collaborate with De Montfort University’s Decolonising DMU program to facilitate conversations among students of color at the two institutions.

At the conclusion of the first conversation, in early March 2020, one student came up to Liz at the end to thank her for coordinating the event. The student mentioned that she remembered Liz from her freshman seminar presentation about study abroad, but had never felt like study abroad was for her. However, had she had an experience like that DMU conversation as a first year student, she would have made study abroad a reality.

Then, when the pandemic hit, the GC Education Abroad team worked closely with study abroad program directors to quickly pivot many of study abroad programs to a virtual format and the idea really began to cement. Over the summer, Liz began reaching out to faculty who teach on international subjects to begin connecting them with counterparts at partner institutions to facilitate student - to - student conversations, guest lectures, a creative writing workshop series, and even a trivia night.

Tips for Facilitating more Internationalization on your Campus
With almost 18 months under their belt, the Border Free GC initiative is starting to gain international recognition and was one of only fifteen universities worldwide highlighted in the June 2021 University UK report on “examples of impactful Internationalisation at Home programmes.”

Liz offered advice for other universities hoping to facilitate more on campus internationalization:

Start small. Think about who your department allies are. Think about who your close partners abroad are and who might have the interest and resources to engage on this level with your institution. Think about where the holes are in your operations - is there a target audience you are not reaching that you want to?

Rather than taking a syllabus or program and just moving it online, use your human and technological resources to rethink the course or event. Start with your goals or learning outcomes and work backwards from there to design an impactful and sustainable project.

The pandemic has given way to a number of innovations in the past year, and as international education continues to face limited mobility, what internationalization strategies can you implement on your campus?