This is an online interview conducted with the Directors of Loyola’s new M.Ed. in International Higher Education, Dr. Noah W. Sobe (Cultural and Educational Policy Studies) and Dr. Terry Williams (Higher Education). Additional information on this exciting new degree program is available at luc.edu/ihe
How do your personal research interests interact with the International Higher Education curriculum?
Terry Williams: Currently, my personal research interests revolve around a number of questions that relate to understanding more fully the experience of U.S. students who study abroad. I am particularly interested in questions that examine the nature and extent of learning (both anticipated and unanticipated) that occur in relationship to a number of variables associated with education abroad such as length of study, country of study, location of residence while in country, language competency, in-country cultural experiences, and extent and nature of co-curricular experiences inclusive of student tourism. Other questions under examination revolve around understanding the experience that students of color have while they study overseas including, in part, the extent to which they may encounter harassment and/or other forms of discrimination based on their race or ethnicity.
Noah W. Sobe: I am a historian of education and a comparative education researcher and am particularly interested in how globalization processes and phenomena affect schooling at all levels. The field of higher education is an important research area in this regard because we see national boundaries seeming to vanish in some instances and in other cases local regulatory systems continuing to carefully monitor and control institutions of higher education. And, increasingly, both transnational NGOs and international governmental organizations are playing a role in establishing the standards and norms that shape how colleges and universities work.
What classes will you teach in the program and what excites you about those topics?
Noah W. Sobe: I will be teaching the ELPS 448 International Higher Education course that students will take in January of their first year in the program. This promises to be a really exciting class because we will be visiting a range of Chinese universities and learning about changes underway in higher education in Asia, but we will also talk extensively about higher education reforms within the European Union. This will be the first moment in the program when members of this global cohort will gather in-person, something that promises to be enriching and fun. I also teach one of the last courses in the program, ELPS 550, a course on Globalization and Education. This course presents a neat opportunity to bring together many of the themes and questions that have surfaced across the previous semesters.
Terry Williams: I expect to offer 2 to 3 courses in the program: American Higher Education, U.S. Students Abroad: Lessons from Rome, and possibly the Internship course. I have taught all three of these courses previously in Chicago and am excited to offer these courses to an international cohort of students, which will bring new and exciting challenges and rewards. The ‘Lessons from Rome’ class will be the final course in the M.Ed. program and will be taught in Rome at Loyola’s campus there. Rome is a wonderful international city and a great place for students to learn about the various ‘models’ of study abroad in which students participate.
What experiences have you had at Loyola’s overseas campuses?
Noah W. Sobe: I joined Loyola in 2005 and since then my travels as a Loyola University Chicago faculty member have taken me to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, South Korea, Turkey, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and the Netherlands, as well as to our overseas campuses. I have visited our Beijing campus on two occasions as part of serving on the university’s Beijing Center Advisory board. It is fascinating to be involved with an undergraduate study abroad program in a city like Beijing that is changing so rapidly. I have also participated in an academic conference in China and worked with some Chinese colleagues. The past several years I have taught at our Rome campus on an annual basis, teaching a Philosophy of Education course as part of the SOE’s undergraduate Summer Rome program. I am presently collaborating with some Italian researchers on a project that looks at inter-cultural dialogue. And, when in Rome, in addition to conducting a series of pilgrimages to my favorite restaurants and gelaterias, I have the pleasure of catching up with professional acquaintances in the Ministry of Education and at several Italian universities.
Terry Williams: For seven consecutive summers (1996-2012), I have taught an intensive, two-week seminar focused on the examination of study abroad as a professional field at Loyola’s Rome Campus. This course has attracted graduate students and education abroad professionals from throughout the U.S. and in summer 2011 the course also attracted its first international graduate student from China. I have also participated in a faculty immersion trip to Vietnam where Loyola maintains a strong presence in the higher education community there and currently serve on Loyola’s Vietnam Advisory Board. My immersion in Vietnam was a wonderful cultural and educational experience for me and I had the opportunity to meet university faculty and administrators as I learned more about the higher education system in Vietnam and the challenges it faces.
What type of student would benefit from the M.Ed. in International Higher Education?
Terry Williams: I believe students from the U.S. and from throughout the world who are seeking to learn and examine the rich and diverse field of international higher education would benefit immensely from this program. Students who have an interest in acquiring new knowledge and in enhancing their professional skills will be well prepared to provide leadership and service at a wide variety of institutions across the U.S. and overseas that provide international programs.
Noah W. Sobe: Students who are looking to build or enhance their expertise and analytic skills as they relate to the field of international higher education. I think the program will be especially useful to a person who works overseas and wants to gain a top-quality master’s degree from a highly regarded US university without needing to relocate back to the US.
Why did Loyola develop this program?
Terry Williams: Loyola’s School of Education developed this program in direct response to past and current students who have been attracted to Loyola by high quality faculty and academic programs in both Higher Education and in International-Comparative Education. Students have been seeking a program that combines the best of both current programs in order to explore higher education in depth but within an international context. The International Higher Education program has been designed carefully to prepare students for rewarding careers in a variety of settings including education abroad offices, international student affairs offices, international branch campuses and centers for U.S. universities, and in a number of private foundations and other organizations that provide professional support for the international education community.
Noah W. Sobe: We developed this program in response to student interest. Prospective students made inquiries and tried to figure out whether their objectives for master’s study would be best served by pursuing a degree in comparative and international education or in higher education. So, after a while it became pretty obvious that we needed to create a program that would integrate the two! We then decided to make the program consist primarily of online coursework both because students have asked us for this and because it lets us reach students across the globe and lets us bring our mission of “enhancing professionalism in the service of social justice” to a whole new level.
If a student is preparing his/her application, what advice would you give to him or her?
Noah W. Sobe: Think carefully about why this program in particular is the one that you feel will let you best advance your intellectual and professional interests. We are interested in students who have carefully explored our program and know what it involves. I recommend that applicants clearly explain in their personal statement what it is they want to achieve and how the learning and experiences they will gain in this.
Terry Williams: My advice to applicants is to first ensure that all application materials for admission are sent to Loyola in a timely manner. Additionally, applicants should give careful thought to the writing of the personal statement where students have the opportunity to discuss what has attracted them to Loyola’s program and, importantly, to the field of international higher education.