Globalizing the Liberal Arts Conference – Soka University of America, June 3-5, 2018

Soka University of America hosted a conference on Globalizing the Liberal Arts (GLA) on June 3-5, 2018 at their campus in Aliso Viejo, CA. The meeting was co-organized by leaders from Yale University, Pomona College, Carleton College, Middlebury College and Soka University of America. The meeting brought together a group of 80 academic leaders that included Presidents, Deans, Directors of Internationalization, and faculty from 44 liberal arts colleges and programs in 12 countries to engage in an intense working discussion about globalization of the liberal arts. The conference was attended by 14 Soka University faculty and staff, representing all of the SUA concentrations and international programs, as well as the SUA administration. International representatives from liberal arts programs in Japan, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Denmark, India, Mexico, Netherlands and Switzerland made the conference a truly global conversation about the state of liberal arts.

Sharing case study examples through panel presentations, and engaging in-depth working group discussions, the participants explored the ways in which liberal arts can provide undergraduates with the capability to collaborate on complex problems that span diverse cultural perspectives. Thought leaders from across the country articulated how their campuses have implemented diverse models for globalized liberal arts, and the role of liberal arts in fostering global perspectives and critical thinking. From the meeting emerged a stronger awareness of the importance of liberal education to help students respond to urgent social, political and scientific challenges that are global in their scope. Details about the conference as well as presentation slides can be found at

Here is the description of the conference from our website:

Our Globalizing the Liberal Arts conference will bring together leaders from leading liberal arts colleges and programs to engage in a summit meeting that will discuss ways in which liberal arts can provide undergraduates with the capability to collaborate on complex problems that span diverse cultural perspectives. The leaders gathered at our meeting will articulate the vision of liberal arts and its role in fostering global citizenship, and how liberal arts can respond to the demands of our societies for solutions to urgent social, political and scientific problems.

Some of the themes our meeting will address – in a mix of keynote presentations, panel discussions and working groups – includes:.

    Several colleges provide extensive Core and General Education Curricula for all of their undergraduates, and in many cases these courses enable students to develop deep intercultural understanding and explore the works and perspectives of civilizations from Europe Asia and other countries. How do these core curricula work and what are their main benefits and challenges? A group of institutions will present the key features of their Core and GE curricula and discuss some of the ways they operate in a globalized liberal arts education.

This group will describe several models of a Global Learning Center–some well-established and some just starting, and share the experiences of building centers, and how these centers can help build toward a more global liberal arts experience on a liberal arts campus.


    The era of digital communications technologies has radically changed the experience of study abroad, and poses new challenges for educators. Whereas students commonly use their electronic devices to take refuge in the deracinated internet environment, our challenge is to harness these devices as a tool for helping them maximize their intercultural learning abroad.  Technology now allows us to access the world beyond our borders in the classroom, and we can replicate intercultural encounters that were previously only experienced abroad. As we reevaluate the concepts of “intercultural” and “abroad” we must also consider what new pedagogies will best prepare our students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, at home and while abroad.

    In recent years, many liberal arts colleges have begun to promote themselves as incubators of “global citizenship.” In spite of these claims, however, it is unclear what precisely defines a college as global. The purpose of this roundtable discussion is to work toward a definition of the “global” in the liberal arts by looking at different versions of global programs from leading liberal arts colleges.
    The activities collected under the rubric of “global experience” tend to be multiple and far-flung—often including off campus study, select courses, internships, civic engagement, language study, participation in events, and more. How can we curate these experiences in a way that renders them more coherent and meaningful for our students while at the same time translating
    them into a more broadly understood academic currency? This session will focus on three related topics: 1) courses that encourage student reflection; 2) eportfolios and other techniques for assembling and assessing disparate experiences; 3) transcript notations as a way to recognize and represent a body of work.
      How can we bring our STEM faculty and students into deeper engagement with globalized issues in science and technology? What kinds of tie-ins can study abroad have with STEM to make for more meaningful engagement within the international experience? And what are some of the emerging new curricula in science within liberal arts institutions? This panel will discuss the state of STEM education within liberal arts in a global context.

Our meeting will include Directors for Global Education and Deans from a Mellon Foundation Global Liberal Arts consortium that includes Carleton, Connecticut College, Colorado College, Grinnell, Hamilton, Lafayette, Mount Holyoke, Middlebury, Saint Lawrence, Trinity College, Union, Wesleyan, and Williams.  With strong regional connections to the Claremont Colleges, as well as nearby peer institutions, we will be able to offer presentations and share perspectives on global liberal arts from leading institutions across Southern California. Yale University and Yale-NUS College (Singapore) have agreed to participate, and both will be sending teams of faculty to represent their new projects in undergraduate education and liberal arts. Yale and Yale-NUS jointly organized a conference in 2016 entitled “Globalizing the Liberal Arts and many of  participants from that meeting would be invited and expected to attend.

An additional opportunity exists to connect to excellent liberal arts programs internationally, and we will include several representatives of leading international institutions from around the world, including Singapore, Japan, India, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Kenya, China, and Malaysia. The presence of representatives from a wide range of international liberal arts colleges and programs will provide a truly global perspective.

A report from this meeting was written, and the link to this report is here:


GLA Globalizing the Liberal Arts Conference Report and Presentations

We have issued a report based on our GLA conference, including summaries of the keynote, plenary talks, and the working group sessions. The report also includes recommendations for next steps in the final sections.

This Summary Conference Report can be downloaded at this link: report.on.gla.conference.ver.sept14

We also have uploaded the PDF and PPT files of keynote and plenary talks which are available below in the order of the presentations during the program.

Conference Program PDF


4:30 pm     Evening welcoming reception | Founders Hall

5:45 pm     Buffet Dinner

6:45 pm     Plenary Keynote I: Hiram Chodosh, President, Claremont McKenna College, The Future of Learning (PDF) PPT

7:15 pm     Roundtable Discussion on Globalization and Liberal Arts Education


8:00 am     Registration & Coffee Performing Arts Center, Lobby

8:30 am     Welcome & Introduction to Soka University | Overview of the conference | Performing Arts Center, Main Hall

8:45 am     Plenary Keynote II:  Patti McGill Peterson, Senior Fellow American Council on Education  Globally Engaged Institutions: Lists of Initiatives or Institutional DNA (PDF) | PPT

9:30 am     Plenary Panel 1: “The Role of the Core and GE Curriculum in Global Liberal Arts”

Panel ChairBryan Penprase, Dean of Faculty, Soka University of America


Bryan Penprase,  The Soka Curriculum (PDF)   | PPT

David Helfand, Professor of Astronomy, and Chair of the Committee on Innovative Teaching and Learning, Columbia University | Essential Ingredients of a Liberal Arts Curriculum

Terry Nardin, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Common Curriculum at Yale-NUS College (Singapore) |The Common Curriculum at Yale-NUS College (PDF)  | PPT

Noah Pickus, Dean, Undergraduate Curriculum Affairs and Faculty Development Duke Kunshan University (China) | The Duke-Kunshan University Curriculum (PDF) PPT

10:30 – 11:00 am         Coffee Break | Performing Arts Center Lobby

11:00 am     Plenary Panel 2: “Centers for Global Learning: Variations in Structure and Operations”

Panel ChairMary Coffey, Associate Dean, Pomona College Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations


Tamar Mayer, Director of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs and the Program in International and Global Studies, Middlebury College Expanding the Charge: Globalizing the International Center

Kate Patch, Senior Director of Global Initiatives, Grinnell College Institute for Global Engagement  Internationalizing the Liberal Arts Campus, Now What? (PDF) | PPT

Richard Detweiler, President, Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA) Developing Global Education Networks (PDF) | PPT

Anne Dwyer, Associate Professor and Director, Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations, Pomona College Rebuilding “The Borg”: Reimagining a Residential Center as a Global Hub (PDF) PPT

12:00 pm             Plenary Panel 3:  “Study Abroad in a Connected World”

Panel Chair: Jane Edwards, Dean of International and Professional Experience, Yale University  Setting the Stage for Moving the Furniture (PDF)PPT


Antonio González, Professor of Spanish and Director of the Fries Center for Global Studies, Wesleyan University Replicating Intercultural Learning in the High-Tech Classroom: Unforeseen Challenges (PDF) PPT

Vanita Shastri, Dean of Global Education & Strategic Programs Ashoka University (India) | Development and Challenges of Student Mobility for Indian Institutions

Talya Zemach-Bersin, Postdoctoral Fellow, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Brown University and an instructor in Yale’s Education Studies Program | The Cultural Politics of Study Abroad 

1:00 pm     Buffet Lunch | Performing Arts Center Lobby & Patio

2:30 pm     Overview of Parallel Sessions | Pauling Hall 216

Parallel Working Group Discussions I

Theme 1 | The Role of the Core and GE Curriculum in Global Liberal Arts  Pauling Hall 216

Theme 2 | Centers for Global Learning: Variations in Structure and Operations | Maathai Hall 207

Theme 3 | Study Abroad in a Connected World | Maathai Hall 303

4:15 pm     Coffee Break | Performing Arts Center Lobby

5:00 pm     Reports from the Working Groups | Pauling Hall 216

6:00 pm     Overview of Conference and Upcoming Working Groups

6:30 pm     Buffet Dinner | Performing Arts Center Lobby


8:00 am     Coffee & Refreshments Performing Arts Center, Lobby

8:30 am     Introduction to Second Day of Conference Performing Arts Center, Main Hall

8:45 am     Plenary Keynote III | Adam Weinberg, President,  Denison University Performing Arts Center, Main Hall | Creating a Globally Engaged Campus (PDF)

9:30 am     Plenary Panel 4: “The Global Liberal Arts College”

Panel Chair: Tamar Mayer, Director of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs and the Program in International and Global Studies Middlebury College


Jeremy Adelman (Virtual Presentation), Henry Charles Lea Professor of History and Director of the Global History Lab Princeton University | Can We Bring the World into a Course? (PDF) | PPT

Rosetta Marantz Cohen, Professor of Education and Child Study, Smith College | The Making of a School: Global Education in the Making (PDF) PPT

Nadia Rabesahala Horning, Director of Social Entrepreneurship Programs, Middlebury College | Increasing the Flow of Ideas and People between a College and a Continent: the Middlebury-ALU Experiment

Trisha Craig, Dean of International and Professional Experience Yale-NUS College (Singapore) In Asia, For the World: Establishing the Liberal Arts Abroad (PDF) | PPT

Kara Godwin, Research Consultant Boston College Center for the International Studies of Higher Education |  Liberal Education’s Global Trends and Critical Questions: Where to go from here? (PDF) 

10:30 – 11:00 am      Coffee Break | Performing Arts Center Lobby

11:00 am     Plenary Panel 5:  “Capturing the Global Experience”

Panel Chair: Scott Carpenter, Marjorie Crabb Garbisch Professor of French and the Liberal Arts, Director of the Center for Global and Regional Studies, Carleton College | Global Pathways


Eva Posfay, Professor of French, former Associate Dean, Carleton College| Who Am I? Promoting Intercultural Reflection in the Classroom (PDF) | PPT

Arne Koch, Dean of Global Engagement, Associate Professor of German, Colby College | Integrating Off-Campus Study: Colby College’s Faculty Mentoring (Pilot) Program (PDF) | PPT

Eric Feldman, Program Manager, Office of Global Learning Initiative Florida International University | Prompting Reflection with ePortfolios in a Global Distinction Program (PDF) PPT

Elaine Meyer-Lee, Associate Vice President for Global Learning and Leadership, Agnes Scott College | Building on Global Immersion Experiences in the Curriculum and Co-Curriculum (PDF)PPT

12:00 pm    Plenary Panel 6: “Globalized STEM Education”

Panel Chair: Bryan Penprase, Dean of Faculty, Soka University of America


David Drew, Professor of Education and Joseph B. Platt Chair in the Management of Technology, Claremont Graduate University | Liberal Arts and Engineering (PDF) | PPT

Kathy Takayama, Senior Science Education Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)|  Inclusive STEM Education (PDF) PPT

Katie Purvis-Roberts, Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science, W.M. Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer and Scripps Colleges | International Environmental Chemistry (PDF) PPT

Juan Manuel Fernández-Cárdenas, Professor of Education and Director of the Master in Educational Technology, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico |  Understanding the teaching of STEM education through dialogue and transformative learning in Mexico (PDF)

1:00 pm       Buffet Lunch | Performing Arts Center Lobby & Patio

2:30 pm       Overview of Parallel Sessions | Pauling Hall 216

Parallel Working Group Discussions II

Theme 4 | The Global Liberal Arts College | Maathai Hall 207

Theme 5 | Capturing the Global Experience | Pauling 216

Theme 6 | Globalized STEM Education | Maathai Hall 303

4:15 pm        Coffee Break | Performing Arts Center Lobby

4:45 pm       Reports from the Working Groups | Pauling Hall 216

Roundtable Discussion: “What is a Global College?” | Pauling Hall 216

5:30 pm     Reception | Maathai Hall Patio

6:00 pm     Closing Buffet Dinner | Performing Arts Center Lobby

7:30 pm      Meeting Adjourns