U.S. Department of Education awards Fulbright-Hays grant to support global learning and engagement

August 18, 2020

The U.S. Department of Education awarded a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Grant to two educators at Clemson University to further build global service-learning and engagement opportunities in India for students and faculty.

Clemson is committed to providing students with experiences that prepare them for what comes next, ensuring they have the skills to partner with colleagues from around the world to address pressing global challenges of the 21st century. Kyle Anderson, senior director of Clemson’s Office of Global Engagement, and Sarah Winslow, senior associate director of the Clemson University Honors College, want students to engage in “fair trade” learning, a balanced way of working alongside global collaborators so that knowledge and benefits are shared by all.

As the recipients of this grant, Anderson and Winslow will work closely with Melissa Hawkins, program coordinator of the Honors College, and Andrew Pyle, associate professor in the Communication Department, to develop global learning programs with the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Math (GSSM). This collaboration will help to expand global commitment and outreach in India at both organizations.

“The proposed project grew out of strategic planning efforts at both Clemson and GSSM, as global engagement is an established priority for both of our institutions,” said Winslow, who is responsible for Honors College curriculum development, student engagement and experiential learning. “It will support our efforts to develop an innovative Honors College curriculum and enhance engagement opportunities, benefitting institutions throughout the state of South Carolina.”

The Upstate alone includes more than 450 international businesses from over 30 different countries. A number of those companies are from Asia, particularly India, Japan and China. This grant will help Clemson strengthen global learning outside of Western Europe and Latin America, preparing students for “a more Asian future.”

“If we look at what’s happening in the Upstate – who’s investing in our state, and we look at some of the biggest economies in the world and those countries that are rising in terms of global power, those are a lot of places where we want to be more engaged,” Anderson said. Getting this grant is going to allow educators from Clemson and the partnering SC institutions to go to India together to learn and create units for the classrooms, and to build experiential learning programs for the university. It has the potential to be really impactful.”

Working to infuse cross-cultural awareness and global challenges into the Honors College and GSSM curricula, the project will also help increase the cultural competency of K-12 educators and students, and identify placements for student internships or research, a required part of the GSSM curriculum.

While abroad, students from both institutions will be learning information related to lesser studied languages, culture, history, ecology, social issues and global challenges. At home, this information will expand the content of programs within the state of South Carolina.

“The grant supports plans for enhancements to the Honors curriculum that will highlight integrative, experiential learning. In the Honors College, students will have the opportunity to take a thematic cluster of courses and have a culminating experience – either a study abroad, internship or research experience in that given theme,” said Winslow. “We’ve chosen topics such as equitable societies, sustainability and other issues that are attached to the notion of global challenges. When students leave the program, they can say they’ve had this extensive set of coursework and experiential learning on this particular challenge facing the world.”

Two students standing on a cliff with the Great Wall of China in the background and they are holding a tiger ray with a Clemson paw on it

Study abroad program in China

Working in an Honors College at a large research university, Winslow says this kind of program allows students to have some of the best aspects of a liberal arts education with the best aspects of education at a R1 research university. Anderson agrees this approach prepares students for professional life, where they will be working in international teams.

Aided by the grant, this program will continue to expand upon what Clemson has begun thanks to the support of people like Michael and Linda Schwehr, and the Bill Hendrix family.

Mike Schwehr (’81) is a Clemson alum who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and spent many years of his career with Exxon Mobil. During his time there, he lived abroad and traveled extensively – deeply interested in global service. He wanted to give back to the university to make sure Clemson students were having similar experiences.

A large group of students gathered together outside in a courtyard area with trees and a bridge in the background

Study abroad program in Japan

University Trustee Leon James “Bill” Hendrix and his family contributed a gift in the memory of Pam Hendrix. Pam Hendrix’s passion was International travel. She encouraged her family to travel, and the gift established the Pam Hendrix Center for Education Abroad, scholarships and the Dream Jar Curriculum to inspire students to plan and travel. Bill Hendrix (’63 and ’68) served as Clemson’s student body president, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson.

“The University has benefited from generous gifts in recent years to support our global engagement efforts, including a $2.5 million gift from the Hendrix Family and a $500,000 gift from the Michael W. Schwehr family,” said Anderson. “This added support from the U.S. Department of Education will allow us to reach the University’s goals of building a global engagement platform to increase opportunities for students to interact across cultures and national boundaries.”