OIA Statement of Mission
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) integrates and advances UO’s many projects of internationalization in support of students, faculty, the campus community and the UO Academic Plan. We do so because we believe global engagement is foundational to academic excellence; vital to our to students’ educational development, personal growth, and professional competitiveness; essential for faculty development and research excellence; and integral to the university’s social mission as a premier public residential research university.
How OIA Implements Its Mission
OIA supports, integrates and advances UO internationalization by:
- Increasing student participation in study abroad;
- Making study abroad more affordable and more tightly integrated into the student curriculum and degree programs;
- Welcoming international students and ensuring their academic and cross-cultural success;
- Translating a growing international population into learning opportunities, diversification, and cross-cultural engagements for the whole campus;
- Establishing international partnerships that support faculty research and enhance the reputation of the UO as a premier public research university;
- Building a UO global brand, centered on the social mission of a public research university to apply knowledge in the service of human well-being on many scales.
The Distinctive Learning Process at the Core of Internationalization
OIA fosters a special kind of learning, in which cross-cultural engagement produces a process of “de-centering.” This process involves deep exposure to another worldview and system of meaning, revealing both the distinctiveness and the particularity of our own values, framing assumptions, and heritage.
International engagement as de-centering pushes us to live, speak, eat, think, cry, laugh, through and in someone else’s language, culture, values and worldview, even for a brief time. We learn not just to tolerate, but to respect, not just to recognize difference, but to feel it empathetically and personally. Embracing “the Other,” we come back home and see our own culture as exotically new (the way an international student at UO might see US culture). This is the essence of de-centering, a vital form of cultural yoga for anyone to work effectively in a multi-cultural setting or to thrive in the multipolar globalization of the 21s century.
The process of de-centering is at the heart of the mission of OIA.
Add to it the benefits of learning a second (or third, or more) language, and gaining real living and work experience outside one’s home country, and we produce results that increase the value of a UO degree, improve the quality of the campus experience, strengthen our faculty, and increase our students employability.
Benefits of Internationalization
We foster a global engagement that:
- Prepares students for a globalized workforce that rewards command of multiple languages and demands cross-cultural savvy and global awareness.
- Makes our campus a more multi-lingual, diverse, tolerant and inclusive community.
- Enables US students to have an international experience right here in Eugene by interacting meaningfully with a growing international student population.
- Encourages and supports faculty engagement with top global partners, ensuring that as higher education leadership emerges outside the US, we remain a top public research university.
- Stimulates and rewards curiosity, instilling a lifelong passion for discovery at the heart of a liberal education.
- Teaches two vital 21st century global citizenship skills: a) the world and its challenges are complex, but I can manage them because I can know them one international friendship, neighborhood, and community at a time; and b) multiplicity of cultures, religions, or ideologies is not a threat, but an asset in a world that requires a diversity of perspectives to address knotty challenges.
- Supports our social mission as a public research university, in which we fundraise and direct resources to ensure that the benefits of global engagement are not limited to a few well-to-do students but are fully available to students of color, students from families of modest means, and students who are first generation in college.
- Maintains high academic standards by ensuring that the quality and rigor of credits earned overseas equals or exceeds the quality and rigor of those offered on the home campus, and includes hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.
- Fits within the curriculum and degree requirements of every student, especially those whose majors leave little room for electives or flexibility (such as in the sciences and many professional schools).