South Korea will replace South Africa as WKU’s country of focus during the coming academic year. The 2016-17 International Year of South Korea marks the third yearlong country celebration for WKU.
An annual initiative, the International Year Of…(IYO) is intended to provide campus and surrounding community members with a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the world around them and their place in it. This is achieved through country-focused course integrations, campus programs and community events.
As a campus internationalization initiative, the IYO endeavors to facilitate an atmosphere in which cultural exchange and the sharing of global perspectives is the norm on campus and in the classroom.
“Internationalization is not just a synonym for study abroad; it is a fundamental value that prioritizes equality of cultural exchange and challenges students to better understand their own heritage and way of life in the process. The International Year Of… program plays an important role in integrating meaningful and focused internationalization into our WKU community,” said Dr. Alison Youngblood, assistant professor of English.
WKU faculty play a central role in this internationalization initiative. Dr. Youngblood, who will be teaching two augmented courses in the fall and has co-organized a film festival set for Sept. 19-Oct. 4, served alongside more than eight faculty members on the IYO South Korea planning committee. Together, this multidisciplinary group crafted a yearlong calendar of events that includes visiting scholars, artists and experts, a festival inspired by a traditional Korean holiday, and film screenings that span eras and genres. Each committee member will offer courses featuring Korean content.
Beyond planning committee members, OIP has seen greater levels of involvement from faculty and staff across campus. A preliminary count of co-curricular events and academic courses centering on South Korea boasts 15 and a record 45, respectively.
For OIP, the expansion of the IYO is emblematic of the growing importance of global education and the potency of WKU’s international reach.
Beyond the 2016-17 celebration of South Korea, WKU will continue its annual country exploration with Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017-18 and is reviewing proposals for the 2018-19 country of focus. The call for proposals for the 2019-20 country of focus will be in spring 2017. For information about country proposals, visit the IYO website.
Additionally, faculty interested in expanding their knowledge of and connections in the former Yugoslavian country should consider applying for the associated ZSEIFS. OIP, under the guidance of faculty co-leader Dr. Jerry Daday (Sociology) and co-leader Dzeldina Dzelil (a Bosnian-American community member and WKU graduate), is preparing for the ZSEIFS to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the summer of 2017. Applications for that seminar will open in fall 2016.
The Zuheir Sofia Endowment was created to facilitate the mission of the Office of International Programs, which endeavors to provide leadership in the development of a strong international profile. Zuheir Sofia, a 1969 WKU graduate and 2014 Honorary Doctorate recipient, is chairman, president and CEO of Business Bank of Florida Corp.
Faculty members interested in adding Korean content to their courses are encouraged to visit the IYO website for resources that include a reading list created by WKU Libraries.
About the Office of International Programs: The Office of International Programs supports the internationalization agenda of the university by creating opportunities for faculty and staff development in an global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.