Since 2013, DePaul’s Global Learning Experience (GLE) has connected students and faculty to their counterparts across the world. Developed as a result of discussion on ways to support the Vision 2018 strategic plan, the GLE initiative helps faculty members open their courses to international interaction and bring a global perspective into their classrooms.
“This program gives faculty and students alike the opportunity to experience the similarities and differences in academia within or in other countries,” says Rosi Leon, assistant director for global engagement at DePaul. “Most importantly, we’re aiming to create a passionate, international community that can work together to solve problems and build a better world.”
Each GLE begins with a proposal. Faculty can choose to work with an international colleague they’re already connected with, or ask the Office of Global Engagement to help them start a new collaboration. After two weeks of training, faculty begin to design an outcomes-driven learning experience proposal with their international counterpart. From synchronized lectures and guest speakers to group assignments to discussions and online debates, the curriculum gives students and faculty on each side opportunities for meaningful reflection in both multicultural and global contexts. “Faculty have a lot of freedom to choose topics, build a unique curriculum and work with colleagues with whom they may have never thought they could,” Leon says.
Since the initiative’s inception, DePaul has implemented 22 GLEs with more than 350 DePaul student participants. The number of GLEs doubled in the last academic year alone. So far, 13 countries have participated, with course topics ranging from early childhood and special education to democracy and dictatorship to data structures in Java.
Robert Steel, an assistant professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media, partnered with senior lecturer Kenny McAlpine of Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland. Both faculty focus on the application of audio technology, and together they challenged their students to create soundscapes of their cities.
Similar to a landscape, which makes up the visible features of an area, a soundscape captures the sounds heard in a particular location. Using post-production sound design technology, DePaul students created their perceived version of Dundee, and Abertay students created perceived versions of Chicago. Once completed, the students exchanged soundscapes and discussed what was true in the soundscapes and what stereotypes came through.
“Most DePaul students factored in bagpipes and sheep to their soundscapes of Scotland, when Dundee actually sounds like what we consider a normal city,” Steel says. “So this was a great exercise not only in breaking stereotypes, but also in project management on a virtual platform across different time zones, with colleagues you’ve never met in person. That experience is invaluable as these students are getting ready to enter the professional world.”
Faculty can repeat a particular GLE up to three times. Steel’s GLE was so successful he plans to offer it again this fall in two of his classes.
“I believe it’s crucial for students to experience the world outside of DePaul, outside of Chicago and outside of the United States,” he says. “GLE is a great way to participate in a global conversation while applying the knowledge they’ve acquired. I’m so thankful DePaul has given us this opportunity.”
Adapted from an article published in Newsline.