academic exchange

Have you ever tried teaching classic literature to language learners? Teacher trainer Chris Lima explains how 19th century language and culture are less of a hindrance in relating literature – and Jane Austen specifically – to language students than one might assume. I suppose most teachers’ first reaction towards working with Jane Austen in the English language classroom is not very different from the reactions we have when people mention Shakespeare or Dickens, or literature in general.

Though things sure aren’t looking good for US universities, Wisconsin has it unusually bad. Decades of plummeting investment in higher education has left it among the US’s 10 worst states. Fear of debt mean Wisconsin students are balking at paying for college, denting revenue even more. But what can Wisconsin universities do to drum up funding? The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a plan.

Olivia Siller, one of the teenagers on the British Council Summer School educational and cultural trip to the UK, blogs about the group’s adventures on their visit to Liverpool. Imagine walking through the busy streets of Manhattan, tilting your head to see the giant skyscrapers towering over you. Then envision the beautiful buildings of London that overflow with character and history.

The Mexican law student was surprised by how easy it was to get into Iran two years ago. By merely asking questions about Islam at a party, he managed to pique the interest of Iran’s top diplomat in Mexico. Months later, he had a plane ticket and a scholarship to a mysterious school in Iran as a guest of the Islamic Republic. Next came the start of classes and a second surprise: There were dozens of others just like him.

A recent article in The Chronicle – ‘Is Europe Passé‘ – examines the US’s higher education efforts with new partners and how this affects relationships with the UK, among others. In response, the British Council’s higher education manager in the US, Janice Mulholland, suggests a different form of partnerships for institutions in a global economy.

The British higher education system is in the middle of a quiet revolution, tilting relatively quickly towards an American-style market-based approach favored by the current coalition government. The government has laid out plans to cut government funding for universities by 40% by 2014. But that money has to come from somewhere. And it will likely be students. But such tuition caps don’t apply to students from outside the European Union, which is a large part of the reason the UK just unveiled a new strategic effort to attract students from overseas.

Since its creation in the summer of 1946, the Fulbright program has become the “flagship international educational exchange program” of the US government. Over the past 67 years, almost 320,000 students, scholars and teachers have traveled internationally as part of the program’s vast effort to improve mutual understanding between nations. Understandably, given the profound effect these experiences have had on the lives of grant recipients, the Fulbright is often seen as among the most liberal, generous, and benevolent international programs of the US state.

In a Senate confirmation hearing this afternoon (July 30), Evan Ryan, President Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), said that exchanges “capitalize on American strengths and appeals,” and that ECA is “the lifeblood of public diplomacy." Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ryan underlined the powerful role people-to-people exchanges play in advancing U.S. public diplomacy and foreign policy goals.

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