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OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
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International Education Programs Service

Toward Diversity in International Service Professions

Archived Information


The United States is a multiethnic, multiracial nation, reflecting its heritage as a nation of immigrants. Diversity is an asset in a global world, where people and societies interact more and more frequently in a variety of contexts. Until recently, however, it has been difficult to find among international service professionals the diversity that so strongly characterizes the U.S. population. Relatively few minority students choose to engage in academic programs that provide the requisite training for careers in international service. Yet in order for the U.S. to more effectively serve as a leader in today's world, it is important that this diversity is represented in government and the foreign service, as well as in the education, business and non-profit sectors.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is seeking to increase minority representation in internationally-focused careers and classrooms. The ED resources include individual grant programs and the legislation and regulations governing them, selection criteria, and technical assistance provided by department staff. Following is a closer look at these resources and how they support diversity through programs sponsored by ED's International Education Programs Service (IEPS).

ED Program Provisions and Practices

Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) requires every ED discretionary grant applicant to cite the steps the applicant will take to ensure underrepresented groups' equitable access to and participation in the proposed program. The statute highlights six types of barriers that may impede access, including race, national origin, color, gender, disability and age. The department ensures that applicants consider inclusive strategies in designing their projects by applying the GEPA provision to all grant applications.

IEPS expands on this requirement by using selection criteria that enable peer reviewers to assign points for applicants' plans to ensure equal access. Competitive standards have encouraged applicants to think about developing activities to reach minority constituencies. For example, within the selection criteria mandated by regulations for the Title VI National Resource Centers program, area and international studies centers must address diversity in two sections of the narrative: first in the context of "Quality of Staff Resources" and in "Impact and Evaluation" plans. These criteria equal a total of ten possible points in a competition for which smaller point spreads often mean the difference between centers that are funded and those that are not.

IEPS managers and program officers recognize the importance of GEPA as they educate prospective applicants about GEPA at national association meetings, through technical assistance, and at ED-sponsored conferences.

Title VI Programs Reaching Diverse Audiences

Acknowledging that national interest is better served by diversity among U.S. international service professionals, the 1992 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act expanded Title VI to include a new program to train minority students for international careers: the Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP). Through IIPP and other programs, IEPS provides support for critical curriculum development, faculty development, and student fellowship projects serving Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and minority audiences. This support manifests itself in direct grants to minority-serving institutions; grants to other institutions of higher education in support of partnerships with minority-serving institutions; and grants to support outreach programs targeted to minority audiences.

The Institute for International Public Policy is the largest direct grant to a minority-serving institution - and at $1.5 million in Fiscal Year 2002, the largest grant funded under Title VI. The Federal investment is more than recouped in its lasting, national impact on human and institutional resources supporting diversity in international service professions. Administered since 1994 by the United Negro College Fund, it concentrates its internationalization efforts on two levels: individual and institutional. IIPP's centerpiece is its Fellows Program, providing underrepresented minority students from across the United States with an integrated program that allows them to develop solid international education credentials, including language competence, overseas study, analytical skills and practical internship experience. Moreover, by exposing Fellows to professionals in a variety of international careers, matching them with mentors and sponsors who actively assist Fellows in their career paths, IIPP provides underrepresented students with networks that are critical to success in international service professions.

"The forces of globalization, especially in the post-9/11 context, are putting tremendous pressure on America to adapt to new global realities. The Institute is contributing to the nation's ability to respond to those realities by creating a diverse 'pipeline' of globally-competent human resources prepared for the new globalized public service."


-- Mark Chichester, Director Institute for International Public Policy

The IIPP Fellows Program is unique in that it examines barriers that inhibit minority involvement in international careers as a strategy for overcoming those barriers. Organizational behavior is central to the curriculum because it prepares students for the challenges they are likely to face in a non-diverse organization.

A CLOSER LOOK: The IIPP Fellows Program

Each year, a cohort of 20-30 students embarks on the IIPP Fellows program, culminating in an international affairs career. Fellows begin with an eight-week Sophomore Summer Policy Institute, held at Clark Atlanta University's School of International Affairs and Development. The Institute curriculum includes international politics, research methods, U.S. foreign policy, international business, economics, and area studies. A writing-across-the-curriculum component allows students to improve their writing skills. At the end of the Institute, Fellows travel to Washington, D.C. and New York City for policy briefings on Capitol Hill, at the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Service Institute, at the United Nations and on Wall Street.

Following the Institute, Fellows spend one to two semesters during their junior year at an approved overseas institution. IIPP fellows have attended colleges and universities in all parts of the world, including Ghana, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Columbia, Poland, France, Netherlands, Italy, Thailand, and China. Upon return, the Junior Summer Policy Institute prepares Fellows for graduate programs through training in policy analysis, quantitative and communication skills. It also provides assistance with applying to graduate schools.

In order to acquire the language skills that are requisite for success in international careers, students participate in intensive summer language institutes after their senior year. They are required to enroll in foreign language courses at their home institutions to lay the foundation for a productive language learning experience during the senior summer and are strongly encouraged to study less commonly taught languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Thai and Russian. Fellows who have already established language competency participate in a summer internship experience, often extending into the fall and spring semester preceding graduate school. IIPP interns have worked in a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Department of State, Africare, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Korean Economic Institute of America, as well as overseas institutions. Upon completing the IIPP program, fellows are eligible to apply for graduate fellowships to support study in a masters degree program in international affairs. Institutional members of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs provide matching support.

SPOTLIGHT ON: IIPP Fellow Taiji Salaam

Within the IIPP curricular framework, fellows follow their own unique paths, dictated by their international focus and career interests. Former IIPP Fellow Taiji Salaam's experience demonstrates the extent to which the IIPP program is educating leaders for international service professions and producing role models for future generations.

Taiji received her bachelor's degree in political science from Clark Atlanta University in 1997. During her junior year, she participated in study abroad programs in Legon, Ghana, and Harare, Zimbabwe. After graduation, she was awarded a fellowship with the Diversity 2000 project. This fellowship allowed her to explore her interest in immigration and refugee policy by interning over the course of a year with the Ethiopian Community Development Council in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. Following this experience, she studied French and Wolof at Africa Consultants International in Dakar, Senegal. Taiji subsequently earned a master's degree in International Affairs with a concentration in International Economics from the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She then joined the Bureau of International Labor Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor as a Project Manager responsible for Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. She is currently working as a foreign analyst in the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at the Congressional Research Service; her long-term career goal is to become a foreign service officer.

With its unique resources and focus on underrepresented groups, IIPP plays a fundamental role in overcoming the cultural and financial barriers inhibiting minority student and institutional involvement in international education and careers. One major barrier is perceptual: there are few mentors or role models of color to inspire student interest in international studies and professions. The IIPP Fellows Program aims to rectify this imbalance. Another barrier is financial: with many HBCUs and HSIs facing resource shortages and struggling to provide basic courses and services, "international" is often not a priority. With targeted investments in campuses' international resources -- through strategic planning assistance, library materials, faculty and staff development, and curriculum projects -- IIPP is working to develop the infrastructure HBCUs and HSIs need to be able to support and sustain quality international education training programs. Critical partners in this endeavour include several Title VI-funded resource centers, who are working both with IIPP and alone to establish links with and programs for underrepresented minority audiences. Just two examples of such efforts include the multipartner "Globalizing Business Schools" project and the IIPP/University of Hawaii partnership to promote Asian Studies at minority-serving institutions.

Globalizing Business Schools is a pilot program leveraging the resources and expertise of Title VI centers with the interests and expertise of participating HBCUs. Led by IIPP and the Title VI Centers for International Business Education (CIBEs) at the University of Memphis and Michigan State University, it promotes the internationalization of business programs at HBCUs. Partners include the CIBEs at Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, Texas A&M University, the Universities of Florida, Kansas and Wisconsin, and sixteen HBCUs. Albany State University, Dillard University, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University A&M, Tennessee State University, and Tuskegee University comprise the first cohort of eight HBCUs following a three-year, lockstep program encompassing strategic planning, program development and funding identification, as well as faculty development, networking, and mentoring initiatives. A second cohort will also begin the program during the four-year cycle which began in 2002. The program's three-phase plan involves (1) a grant workshop and CIBE consultations; (2) faculty development workshops; and (3) joint faculty/business study abroad. Participation costs are underwritten by Title VI-funded institutions and private sources, entailing a nearly $650,000 commitment from Title VI organizations over four years.

Another IIPP partnership with the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Title VI National Resource Center for South East Asian Studies provides Asian Studies faculty and curriculum development assistance to minority-serving institutions. The Summer Seminar for Minority-Serving Institutions' Faculty begins with a week-long seminar on internationalizing curricula followed by a month actually developing course plans and materials in a Southeast Asian country. Initiated in 1999, seminars have been held in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand/Burma. China and Malaysia will provide the backdrop for the 2004 program. Each seminar is followed by an on-campus implementation workshop resulting in practical curricular applications. Further support for Asian Studies is provided by the collaboration between IIPP and the University of Hawaii's Title VI-funded National Foreign Language Resource Center. This initiative will make use of on-line technology combined with on-site tutors to pilot beginning Chinese programs at minority-serving institutions. The partnership will leverage Title VI funding and expertise to support an instructional model that makes efficient use of limited resources for effective teaching of Chinese.

The Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University (FIU), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, receives Title VI funding with the University of Florida as part of a consortial National Resource Center. With Hispanics comprising over 52 percent and African-Americans comprising over 13 percent of its fall 2002 enrollment, FIU reaches a diverse audience of students with its stellar Latin American and Caribbean studies academic, research, outreach, and co-curricular programs. A complement of on-campus and overseas study opportunities geared toward undergraduate and graduate students distinguish FIU as one of the country's premier sites for training international service professionals.

These are but a few examples of how Title VI grant programs are making inroads by building institutional capacity and training a new, diverse generation of international service professionals. As summed up by IEPS Director, Ralph Hines, whose own international service career spans over 33 years: "The Title VI programs are providing the institutional infrastructure and intensive training necessary to prepare young people to take on the rigors of the international job market. In so doing, they are creating a diverse and internationally educated cadre of students equipped to serve U.S. national interests in the 21st century."

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Last Modified: 01/21/2011