Curriculum, Co-Curriculum & Learning Outcomes Subcommittee Report

Charges & Key Questions 

As a core purpose of higher education, student learning is a critical element of internationalization. An internationalized curriculum and co-curriculum ensure that all students are exposed to international perspectives and build global competence. Globally-focused student learning outcomes articulate specific knowledge and skills to be addressed in courses and programs. The charge of this subcommittee was to gather data that will allow the assessment of KU’s globally-focused learning outcomes and the current state of internationalization of the curriculum and co-curriculum by the Steering Committee.  

Key areas of exploration:  

  • Review current KU course offerings to determine number and breadth of courses that integrate international or global systems approaches. 

  • Gather available information on methods for internationalization and participation rates related to current courses. 

  • Compare and contrast undergraduate and graduate student offerings. 

  • Evaluate the visibility of international/global coursework and space for it within various majors and professional programs. 

  • Conduct benchmark and aspirational institutional comparisons for international/global coursework, as well as analysis of available internal resources. 

  • Identify and document proper procedures for development of international courses or modification of courses to include an international or global systems component.   

  • Assess enrollments of/participation in current internationalized courses and programs.  

  • Compare overall KU Core enrollment patterns related to international/global content with Core enrollment patterns for students in more structured academic programs.  

  • Evaluate the co-curricular/extracurricular programs as related to internationalization goals.  Identify barriers and opportunities to co-curricular/extracurricular programs that support internationalization goals. 

  • Examine the demographics of the students participating in KU’s internationally/globally-focused co-curriculum for equity and inclusion. 

  • Members and Invited Guests 

  • Millinda Fowles, Director, Office of Academic Programs & Experiential Learning 

  • Ani Kokobobo, Chair, Slavic Languages and Literatures 

  • Liz MacGonagle, Associate Professor of African & African American Studies and History; Former Director, Kansas African Studies Center, 2013-2021, Co-Chair 

  • Mario Medina, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Engineering (stepped down April 23, 2021) 

  • Roberta Pokphanh, Assistant Vice Provost, International Affairs, Co-Chair 

  • Valerie Pierce, Director, Applied English Center 

  • Luciano Tosta, Director, Center for Global & International Studies; Associate Professor of Brazilian Language & Culture in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese 

  • Michelle Ward, Program Coordinator, Study Abroad & Global Engagement 

  • Ketty Wong, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology in the School of Music 

Findings/Observations to Date 

Identifying Internationalized Curriculum 

While the mission of the University of Kansas includes the statement that, “The university is dedicated to preparing its students for lives of learning and for the challenges educated citizens will encounter in an increasingly complex and diverse global community,” KU lacks a uniform definition of curriculum internationalization. During the course of interviews as part of this self-study, participants identified a range of activities as part of curriculum internationalization, from internationalized course content to language instruction, from program requirements focused on an international dimension to study abroad, and from international collaborations to international student enrollments. 

Area Studies Centers, Languages, and Foundational Strengths within CLAS 

The most robust cluster of programs, majors, minors, and courses with an international focus reside within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). International studies and languages at KU are connected and supported by the activities of KU’s four National Resource Centers for Area Studies (Center for East Asian Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and Kansas African Studies Center) and the activities of the Center for Global & International Studies and the Open Language Resource Center. These six centers all contribute in vital ways to the internationalization of curriculum at KU. They fund language learning and area studies training for students, provide support for curriculum internationalization, and regularly seed faculty positions in area studies both within CLAS and in the professional schools. For the period of 2018-2022, the centers have brought over $6.7 million to KU in Title VI funding from the US Department of Education, including over $3 million in Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship funding for undergraduates and graduate students. KU is one of only ten universities nationally with four or more federally-designated National Resource Centers for Area Studies and one of 16 Open Language Resource Centers, which focuses on the creation of Open Educational Resources for language learners at the secondary and post-secondary level. Two additional language-focused initiatives, Language Training Center & Project Global Officer (GO), have recently brought an additional $3.1 million in funds by leveraging the strength of KU’s language and culture programs to meet Department of Defense training needs in critical foreign languages. KU is one of only eight Language Training Centers serving the US military.  

With over 35 languages taught, the language programs at KU not only produce almost 10% of the credit hours within the College, but also provide an essential and strong foundation for internationalized curriculum and graduate research methods at KU. Advisors and faculty members throughout the professional schools often mentioned language study and study abroad as ways in which their programs provided international curricular options to students whose programs of study do not have a particular international focus. The centers, language departments, and internationally-focused programs within the College also contribute significantly to co-curricular internationalized activities at KU through programming and events. 

Internationalized Courses 

KU’s Area Studies Centers maintain listings of courses identified as meeting their goals of being a National Resource Center for a particular world region as designated by the US Department of Education. While the vast majority of these courses are within the College, there is also a great breadth of professional school courses included – Architecture, Business, Education, Engineering, Journalism, Law, Medicine, Music, Nursing, Health Professions, and Social Welfare. This greater reach outside of the College stems from curriculum internationalization initiatives, support for international research and teaching (including study abroad) among faculty, and seed funding for new faculty positions in area studies that are built into the grant-funded programs. 

The KU Core, the university-wide curriculum for all incoming undergraduate students, includes a central element related to internationalization in Advanced Education Goal 4: “Respect human diversity and expand cultural understanding and global awareness.” One component of this goal, KU Core Goal 4.2, states that, “Upon reaching this goal, students will be able to examine a variety of perspectives in the global community, distinguish their own cultural patterns, and respond flexibly to multiple worldviews.” For the purposes of this inquiry, courses that meet goal 4.2 were considered to be internationalized courses. Over 175 courses are approved for fulfilling goal 4.2, with the overwhelming majority of these courses taught within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The schools of Architecture, Business, Journalism, and Music also host a small number of courses, but many professional schools lack courses certified to meet goal 4.2. Fulfillment of this goal also has the greatest representation of non-course-based activities on campus, as 18% of students in the 2013-2016 cohorts fulfilled the goal through a study-abroad experience. 

Similarly, the Global Awareness Program (GAP), an undergraduate certificate program, has identified courses at KU that possess a modern, international focus, and help students to demonstrate growth in cultural knowledge, expansion of international perspectives, and development of cross-cultural communications skills. In the GAP listing of over 1,700 courses, again the overwhelming majority are within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a very small number of courses representing the professional schools (Architecture, Business, Education, Engineering, Journalism, Music, and Nursing). 

Internationalization of Curriculum in the College & Professional Schools 

Curriculum internationalization is uneven across academic programs at KU. Internationalization is achieved in a variety of ways, depending on the particular characteristics, needs, and opportunities of a given program, department, and/or school. In gathering information for this report, common types of curriculum internationalization cited included courses, programs, and majors/minors with international subjects/content, language courses, study abroad opportunities, international partnerships, faculty and graduate student international research, and programs with significant numbers of international student enrollments. 

While the majority (both in number of available courses and credit hour production) of international courses, majors, and minors fall within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (see appendix), some professional school programs also include internationally focused courses, requirements, and programs. Examples include the School of Business’ International Dimension Requirement, which recognizes the global nature of business careers; or the International & Comparative Law program in the School of Law. These requirements and programs provide students a deep dive into internationalized courses and programs as part of their KU studies. These programs may be fully based within the professional school, and/or take advantage of courses within the College and study abroad opportunities. 

Professional schools also take advantage of the opportunity provided by the range of language courses offered within the College. This may take the form of a degree-based language requirement, as with the Bachelor of Arts within the College, or the Bachelor of Science in Journalism, while others, like the School of Business International Dimension Requirement, or the School of Journalism Area Distribution Requirement, offer language as one means of satisfying a degree requirement. Detailed information on professional school enrollments in language courses is included in the appendix. 

In conversations with both faculty and advisors from across professional schools, study abroad was frequently cited as a means by which students interested in a more global or internationalized educational program could incorporate that dimension into their degree program. Examples included individual student participation in a study abroad program to unit-supported, specialized programs such as a study abroad program in Italy and India available to students in the School of Social Welfare, programs in Vienna and Prague for students in the School of Music, or South Korea for students in the School of Education. Some faculty also cited programs that bring students from international institutions to KU, such as a program within the School of Education that brings in students from Central China Normal University. 

Faculty also frequently cited other international activities in response to questions about internationalized curriculum, including partnerships with international institutions, whether for research, faculty and student exchanges, professional development, or degree programs. Examples included School of Pharmacy vaccination projects in Kenya, research exchanges between the School of Music and China Central Normal University and Zhengzhou University in the area of music therapy, visiting scholar supports within the School of Education, faculty/student involvement in Fulbright programs, and the pilot Global Education Academy in the School of Education which hosts professional development courses for international audiences. While these activities overlap with the data collection of several other subcommittees, that faculty cited them in the context of curriculum internationalization emphasizes the interconnectedness of these kinds of activities.  

Within each of these conversations about curriculum internationalization, common challenges were cited. These included the need for greater support of these types of activities, ranging from recognition of these activities (the value of which may not be reflected in a student credit hour-based budget model) as important and valuable, to assistance with logistical processes for international collaborations. Additionally, increased awareness of the resources and supports that are available through the KUIA division, the challenge of attitudes and assumptions of peers within KU, limitations of accredited professional programs that necessarily focus on the profession as practiced within the US, and the current challenges presented by a global pandemic which have required significant shifts and adaptations in relation to international efforts were also cited. Opportunities that were revealed included continuing work on mapping study abroad opportunities to the major, particularly in the more proscribed professional programs, and significant faculty interest in greater internationalization. This final opportunity was well reflected in faculty comments in the August 2021 teaching summit. In response to a prompt from the keynote speaker about how students should be different after their KU experience, 1/3 of the responses included an acknowledgement that one component of that experience should be gaining a (specifically) global perspective. 

Support for Curriculum Internationalization 

Outside of the Area Studies Center grants, support for curriculum internationalization is extremely limited. In addition to the Center activities, International Affairs manages a small-endowed fund that supports limited efforts in this area. However, this is an area ripe with opportunity as a recent grant-funded program revealed. KU staff and faculty, representing the College, KUIA, and the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) recently developed training materials on Internationalizing STEM courses for Johnson County Community College as part of JCCC’s Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages grant from the US Department of Education. Rich expertise exists at KU to support curriculum internationalization, but the limited resources have resulted in underutilization of our faculty and staff expertise. Future collaborations between the Area Studies Centers, KUIA, and CTE could lead to a greater focus on internationalization. An example of how these strengths could be leveraged is found in the internationalizing the curriculum resources at the University Michigan’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Additional opportunities around Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) are also explored in the COIL report in the appendix. 

Internationalization of Co-Curriculum 

Data were collected on internationally and culturally focused co-curricular activities at KU, including activities hosted by student housing, academic units, and orientation programs. Additional survey data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and focused surveys of students and staff were also collected. The data reveal a robust number and range of internationally and culturally focused events are offered and available and that student interest and participation is strong, but that the efforts would benefit from greater coordination and focused, collaborative advertising. More specifically, the decentralized structure of the institution creates artificial barriers that impede collaboration between units. This causes a proliferation of opportunities and duplication of efforts. The net result of multiple, uncoordinated events is lack of broad awareness and/or event fatigue among target audiences, resulting in poorly attended events, student apathy, faculty fatigue, and competition amongst units rather than strategic collaboration. Full details from the survey are available in the appendix. Additional insights, such as a preference for academic events to be available in a virtual format, and for in-person networking/social events, provide insights into other areas for future improvement. 

Data or Information Needed 

Additional benchmarking against peer institutions would be helpful in demonstrating the unique strengths of KU’s language programs, Area Studies Centers, and integration of study abroad into academic programs. This might also reveal additional opportunities for recommendations of how strategic, modest additions of resources could increase curriculum internationalization at KU. 

Challenges and Opportunities Revealed  

Notable Challenges: 

  • KU lacks a uniform definition of curriculum internationalization. 

  • Two key foundational strengths – language programs and area studies centers – are institutionally undervalued and under-supported. 

  • The decentralized structure of the institution can create artificial barriers. 

  • Rigid requirements of professional programs limit internationally-focused course opportunities and experiences. 

  • A lack of resources to support curriculum internationalization limits activities. 


  • KU possesses deep expertise and resources to support curriculum and co-curriculum internationalization that, with additional funding and dedicated staffing for coordination, could create a hub for centralized coordination of international and area studies activities. 

  • Collaboration between KUIA, SAGE, and CTE could support more robust training and opportunities for faculty to engage in curriculum internationalization. 

  • Coordination between KUIA, CTE, and the Area Studies Centers could augment these activities. 

Preliminary Recommendations and Key Action Steps 

  • Develop a uniform definition of internationalized curriculum and learning outcomes. The University of Michigan Center for Research on Teaching and Learning provides an example worth emulating. 

  • Consider a dedicated faculty position for curriculum internationalization; either within International Affairs or a fellow position within CTE. 

  • Bring greater attention to the value of the Area Studies Centers and language programs in Departments as core to university-wide internationalization efforts.  

  • Develop a more nuanced measure of the value of internationalized courses and curriculum development (outside of the strict SCH model). 

  • Increase both financial and logistical support for international research travel and curriculum development. 

  • Provide funding for a centralized, dedicated staff position to facilitate coordination of activities across academic and administrative units related to curriculum and co-curriculum internationalization, and leverage existing strengths towards these efforts. This should include programmatic funding to encourage collaboration amongst units. 

Questions, Thoughts and Considerations for other Lab Subcommittees 

There are areas of significant overlap with other subcommittees. These areas of overlap include how study abroad fits into curriculum internationalization for many programs, the positioning of Area Studies Centers in KU’s administrative structure, the availability or lack of availability of resources to support curriculum internationalization, and the role that KUIA can play across the academic units to support activities (including mobility and partnerships) and to bring together various constituencies around internationalization activities.