Harper College is one of three colleges and universities recognized by NAFSA: Association of International Educators with the 2018 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization. Named after the late Senator Paul Simon, the NAFSA Simon Awards recognize outstanding innovation and accomplishment in campus internationalization. Harper is also proud to be the only community college recognized this year.
NAFSA presented the Spotlight Award to Harper for its Global Region of Focus Initiative (GRF). Started in 2014, the GRF initiative is a strategic approach to promoting internationalization of the students, faculty, curricula and programs of the College. Under this program, the College selects a region of focus for three-years. Over the course of those three-years, faculty immerse themselves in the region, participating in an international field seminar including coursework and travel to the region. They infuse these topics and information in their classes, enhancing the student learning experience. The College hosts visiting lecturers in the second year and offers student study abroad experiences to the region in both the second and third years. Concurrently, on campus programming focuses on the focus region.
Since its inception in 2014, the GRF produced 75 programs and impacted more than 3,200 students. “The GRF provides students with the cultural, economic, political and historical foundations for understanding global issues,” said Dr. Richard Johnson, director of the Office of International Education. “We aim to shape tomorrow’s leaders with values-centered global perspectives through our curricula.”
“As future leaders of our nation, it is vital that our students have the tools and experiences necessary to thrive in an increasingly interconnected global community,” emphasized Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO. “These institutions stand as excellent examples of how U.S. universities and colleges can effectively provide opportunities for cross-cultural competency using a varied set of methods. There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to internationalization. With institutions like these continuing to strive to incorporate creatively global perspectives onto their campuses, I am confident we can prepare our students to succeed and ultimately strengthen ties around the world.”
A strong advocate for international education and cross-cultural learning, the late Senator Paul Simon is also the namesake of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act. The Simon bill aims to incentivize U.S. institutions to make study abroad an integral part of higher education by creating a modest program of challenge grants. The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate (S. 601) and in the House (H.R. 4379) last year.
Institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA's report, Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities, to be published this fall, and honored at an event in Washington, D.C., during International Education Week in November. To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit www.nafsa.org/SimonAward.