By Kristy Caldwell, Texas State University; Annette Livas, University of Texas Pan American; and Kathy Obuszewski, Case Western Reserve University

In October of 2013, the NIRSA Board of Directors populated the Strategic Values Commission with a diverse array of members who had an interest in global views and impacts. Additionally, NIRSA’s current Strategic Plan has the following as its core belief: “Healthy people and healthy communities are strengthened by a commitment to sustainable practices, wellbeing, service, leadership, equity, diversity, inclusion, and a global perspective.” The Global Perspectives Commission is a result of both of these things.

According to Kevin Marbury, Director of Physical Education & Recreation at the University of Oregon and Co-Chair of the Global Perspectives Commission, the Commission is concerned with

“expanding NIRSA members’ knowledge regarding their roles and responsibilities in preparing global citizens on their respective campuses. The Commission hopes to provide templates and other tools that will make the efforts of these individuals less stressful and perhaps easier to accomplish, and wants to identify ways to document the contributions recreation and wellness programs are making to preparing global citizens.”

The Association believes it is important to be conscious, to educate ourselves and our communities, and to assist in preparing students to be global citizens.

What is globalization?

Globalization is a huge topic with far-reaching implications. The Commission quickly recognized that before it could make plans to move forward, it needed to define globalization for the Association. This past year, the Commission developed the Four Buckets—four distinct components of globalization as it applies to collegiate recreation:

Globalization on our NIRSA campuses
The opportunity to learn from, reach out to, respect, and support international students through recreational activities.

NIRSA learning from around the world
The exchange of best practices and working models between international colleagues who serve college students and raise awareness of the global environment.

NIRSA members’ global experiences
The holistic development of students and NIRSA members that results from worldwide experiences.

NIRSA outreach around the world
NIRSA’s partnering and engagement with recreation providers around the world.

The “Global Perspectives Roundtable” at the 2015 NIRSA Annual Conference will be a great opportunity for NIRSA members to learn more about these Four Buckets. The roundtable is an opportunity to share ideas with colleagues, ask questions, and discuss specific details. The Commission looks forward to hearing different member perspectives.

Many might ask “Why is globalization important?” The answer is that, internationally, more and more students are looking abroad to fulfill their educational goals—and, for many of them, the United States is an attractive destination. Projections indicate that this trend will likely hold steady in the coming years. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states in “Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators” that “the number of students enrolled outside their country of citizenship has risen dramatically, from 0.8 million worldwide in 1975 to 4.5 million in 2012, a more than fivefold increase.” Between 2000–2012, that number of students doubled, with an average growth rate of almost 7%.

In 2000, the United States was the largest host country with 23% of all international students. In 2012, the United States’ share of international students dropped to 16%, but it still remained the host country with the largest international student population. And, overall, the number of international students attending school in the US continues to grow.

Universities around the world are seeking greater numbers of international students and the students are taking advantage of these global opportunities. The OECD’s analysis suggests this overall rise is a result of an “interest in promoting academic, cultural, social and political ties among countries” as well as “the internationalisation of labour markets for highly skilled people.” It is projected that by 2025 eight million students will be internationally mobile. Thus, for collegiate recreation professionals and programs to remain relevant and valued, we need to be prepared to meet the needs of this growing population on our campuses as well as support our domestic students as their own exposure to globalization increases.

How can you support the globalization effort?

The Global Perspectives Commission is now preparing to tap into resources—including our membership base—to identify members’ levels of awareness regarding globalization as well as how they serve their international populations on a daily basis. We will be exploring topics as they relate to global perspectives—campus employment, programming, facilities, services, and staff training support of international students.

Our first survey will be shared in the next month and your input is vital to growing our knowledge of what is currently being done and where we wish to develop. The survey results will continue to help formulate our commission’s path. Attending the session “How International Students Have Changed the Campus Experience” at NIRSA 2015 is also a wonderful way to show your support for the Commission. The session will give attendees ideas for how they can improve the international student experience on their campus.

Here are some other ways you can support the Global Perspectives Commission’s work:

  • Be more conscious of your language
  • Participate in related NIRSA Connect discussions
  • Be more considerate of the international population on your campus and how you’re serving them
  • Make the effort to connect—or reconnect—with your campus’ international office(s)
  • Explore the possibility of having recreation-related questions inserted into your school’s international student assessment efforts
  • Attend related 2015 NIRSA Annual Conference presentations and contribute to the conversations—a full list of sessions with a focus on global perspectives can be found by clicking below
See the Global Perspective sessions scheduled for NIRSA 2015

Global Perspectives Commission Membership

Chris Dawe, Mount Royal University, Co-Chair
Kevin Marbury, University of Oregon, Co-Chair
Allie Bogard, Western Kentucky University
Kristy Caldwell, Texas State University
Lloyd Hisaka, University of Hawaii
Annette Livas, University of Texas Pan American
Kathy Obuszewski, Case Western Reserve University
Caitlin Sommers, University of the Pacific
Gansheng Xu, University of New Brunswick
Keli Kuykendall, NIRSA Headquarters

Please contact any Global Perspectives Commission member for additional ways in which to support this NIRSA Strategic Values Commission. Your feedback and engagement with this topic is important to us as we work toward achieving our goals. Please share your experiences and be on the lookout for our survey, which will be coming soon.


For more information about the Global Perspectives Commission, please contact NIRSA Senior Director Keli Kuykendall.