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The Morehouse College W.E.B. Du Bois International House
A Living and Learning Residential Center to Engage the Global Community
Challenge as Opportunity: The Academy in the Best and Worst of Times
A National Symposium
November 20-21, 2009
Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College
Ida Rousseau Mukenge, Morehouse College
Gwen Wade, Morehouse College
Samuel Livingston, Morehouse College
What is I-House?
The Morehouse College W.E.B. Du Bois International House (I-House) opened in the fall semester of 2007 as a model unit for residential life. To have a broader impact on education, I-House takes an integrated approach to internationalizing undergraduate learning experiences. The I-House model brings together academic affairs, student services, and wellness services to consolidate students’ living and learning experiences and to inform the College’s efforts with the international and intercultural competencies and expertise of faculty, staff, and students from across the campus.
Mission and Goals
The mission of I-House is to become the center of global cultural enrichment activities on campus and a model residential unit promoting mutual respect, leadership development, multicultural learning, and global awareness. As the center of global cultural enrichment activities, I-House also promotes activities in support of the following College goals to internationalize the student learning experience at Morehouse College:
- Establish a supportive community for international students
- Facilitate educational exchanges between international students and U.S. students
- Provide a variety of cultural activities for learning about the United States and other cultures around the world
- Promote participation in Morehouse education and civic engagement abroad programs
- Provide international learning activities related to students’ fields of study
- Initiate and sustain collaborations between the student scholars of International House and organizations within the college community
- Develop and sustain relationships between the International House and College alumni and friends throughout the world
As a residential center for experiential learning, I-House has an added dimension of international cultural enrichment in skills, knowledge, and attitudes that distinguishes it from other residence halls. The following specific learning outcomes exemplify this dimension:
Learning Outcome 1: Students develop world perspective knowledge of the following that further informs academic programs at Morehouse:
- International issues and events, historical and contemporary
- World geography and environment
- Diverse values, beliefs, ideas and worldviews
Learning Outcome 2: Students develop the following world perspective skills that enrich the academic programs:
- Ability to write an abstract, prepare a poster, make an oral presentation
- Ability to conduct international research in his field
- Ability to explain his country/culture to others
Learning Outcome 3: Students develop the following world perspective attitudes that complement the academic programs at Morehouse:
- Desire for an education and civic engagement experience abroad
- International social consciousness
- Sensitivity to U.S. cultural attributes and attitudes
- Tolerance for ambiguity and unfamiliarity
International House is a freshman residence hall. All incoming international students are housed here. U.S. students are selected based on their expressed interest in global issues. I-House provides co-curricular experiences that accelerate students’ understanding of other cultures and nations. Programs are initiated and led by student Resident Advisors (RAs) with guidance from the Resident Director (RD) and the I-House Committee. The committee is co-chaired by two faculty members. It consists of the RD, two students (one international and one U.S.), two staff members from student affairs, and faculty or administrator representatives from each of the academic divisions on campus. This year there are 120 residents; each joins a focus group that explores an issue or topic of global significance. The 2009-2010 academic year offered the following focus groups. A typical program area is listed in parentheses:
International Arts (Women in Photography exhibit at the High Museum)
Global Health (Study groups on HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water)
Comparative Politics (“Du Bois Dialogues” on the Liberian Civil War)
Global Markets (Economic development film series)
Education around the Globe (Civic engagement project on teaching and learning in other cultures)
World Religious Customs and Traditions (Celebrate Muslim holy days)
Focus group themes are explored through the signature programs of I-House and presented as demonstration projects at the end of the academic year.
Du Bois Dialogues
There are three formats: symposia, lectures, and film/television series. The Dialogues provide an opportunity for students to develop global awareness and an ability to explain cultural differences through active participation in international scholarly exchanges.
A Taste of the World
This annual international food-tasting event sponsored by I-House is for the entire campus community. This activity offers a “taste of indigenous foods from around the world.” It facilitates conversations and inspires demonstration projects on culture, language, economics, religion, and health.
Bringing the World to Morehouse: SCOLA on Campus
Not all students will be able to experience study and travel abroad while at Morehouse. Our challenge is to use available media and information technology to overcome this barrier to expanded global exposure. SCOLA (Satellite Communications for Learning) is a non-profit educational organization that receives and re-transmits television programming from around the world in the original languages and original formats. I-House will incorporate SCOLA into the planned co-curricular activities and provide access for general use by the campus community. The SCOLA subscription is especially important for the I-House goal of broader impact. In addition to its satellite broadcasts, SCOLA licensing permits digital downloads for archiving and programs can be streamed over the Internet for uninterrupted availability to the entire campus community. Morehouse will be able to provide access to SCOLA through the College’s network. This means that students, faculty, and staff will have access whether they are on campus or off campus.
The World in Atlanta: International Civic Engagement
Atlanta is an international city. There are organized communities in our city that represent cultures and nations of every continent. Connecting with the local international community is another means of providing exposure to world cultures without travel abroad. In addition to attending local community events and exhibits, I-House focus groups will lead civic engagement projects that are open to all Morehouse students.
Each I-House focus group will produce a demonstration project related to a global issue that they have explored through focus group activities. They will present their demonstration projects in the Spring Semester for Founders Week activities at the College. Demonstration projects will range from the traditional informational poster or photo journal to such multi-media creations as video documentaries and websites to dramatic and musical productions or artistic creations.
Academics, student services, and wellness services cooperate to realize the goals of I-House. Each unit benefits from the expertise of the other and the international and intercultural competencies of faculty and staff. I-House programs complement and are complemented by wellness resources aimed not only at the retention and graduation of U.S. students, but also international students. To this end, international students must be integrated into the mainstream of the Morehouse student body. This includes new student orientation and pre-freshman programs, language support for ESL students, and multicultural counseling and psychological services. The I-House model recognizes the important role that international students play in achieving the College’s goals of global scholarship and global citizenship. It also recognizes the responsibility of the College to international students and to U.S. students, whether they have an educational experience abroad or not.