Comprehensive Internationalization

Integrated Global Perspective is Critical to KU Mission

Comprehensive internationalization is fundamental to everything we do and recognizes that KU plays a critical role around the world. It aspires to connect all of us at KU to the global community through our research, discovery, and creative activity; through our educational programs; and through our service.

Comprehensive Internationalization

An authentic and integrated global perspective is critical in effectively orienting and aligning our efforts in the service of our mission to “educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world.” We gain that perspective and enhance our institutional capacity through comprehensive internationalization. ​The American Council on Education (ACE) defines this as:

A strategic, coordinated framework that integrates policies, programs, initiatives, and individuals to make colleges and universities more globally oriented and internationally connected. In order to foster sustainable and just global engagement, the comprehensive internationalization model embraces an organizational growth mindset. It frames internationalization as an ongoing process rather than a static goal. To that end, it recognizes that all constituents at a college or university—students, faculty, and staff—are learners and central to the institution's equitable, intercultural transformation. Intentional comprehensive internationalization is not an ancillary enterprise, but a means to advance an institution's distinct teaching-research-service mission. In short, effective internationalization cannot happen in a few siloed offices, confined to certain disciplines, or reserved for a limited number of students. Internationalization is a collaborative, integrated ethos, the meaning of which must be discerned by each institution in the context of its unique mission and culture. 

To that end, KU has adopted comprehensive internationalization as part of its core foundations for institutional planning, recognizing that to be successful in achieving our mission we must be of and connected to the world around us. As an integral dimension to our diversity, equity and excellence initiatives, we seek to bring the world’s talent to our university, retain and support that talent in its growth and development and positively transform our world through our discoveries. This requires moving beyond internationalization as a set of discrete services provided by offices within the university to a shared commitment that we collectively and individually internalize and operationalize. Pervasive internationalization profoundly informs the nature and character our actions, how we articulate and understand our identity as a university, and enables unique outcomes in the areas of student success, research and discovery, and in building healthy and vibrant communities as a member of the AAU,as KBOR’s flagship university, and as an accredited R1 under the auspices of the Higher Learning Commission.

KU has significant internationalization resources and regionally unparalled levels of international activity that have proven critical to the teaching and research efforts of the institution. We have students, faculty members and staff on campus from over 120 countries, our alumni network spans the globe, we are 24th in the nation among public research universities in education abroad participation, we are one of the nation’s top Fulbright scholar producers and we are 7th in the nation in language instruction and area studies expertise, housing five Title VI-funded national resource centers. The ACE lab underscored, however, that KU’s efforts and resources in this space need greater strategic coordination, alignment, and incentivization. We must amplify and strategically build upon the work we are already doing, while creating more inclusive structures, supports and recognition for the international activity occurring across KU’s schools and throughout the disciplines, including the professional schools and STEM fields. Through Jayhawks Rising, we will:

  • Enhance alignment of resources with strategic partnership and programming priorities;
  • Improve tracking and reporting of international activity and accomplishments;
  • Increase recognition and rewards for international activity and associated outcomes.

Organizational changes are needed to enhance access, alignment and impact and to affirm and clearly articulate KU’s identity as a major international research university.

International Affairs will partner with academic and administrative leadership on the development of unit-level internationalization plans that are reflective of the three overarching priorities under Jayhawks Rising.

  • Unit-Level Benchmarking: Assess the number of staff and faculty members who have pursued professional development opportunities related to intercultural competency; the number of undergraduates and graduate students who have studied abroad, broken down by key KU student demographic populations and field of study; faculty participation in international conferences; grant-related activity tied to international work or collaborators abroad; publication numbers with co-authors from outside the U.S.; unit efforts to support the professional development and career placement of domestic students with entities that have an international footprint; unit efforts to support the professional development and career placement of international students; levels of Endowment support that are aligned specifically with unit-level international activity.
  • Input and Outcome Metrics:  Establish input and outcome metrics that capture faculty, student, and staff international activity related to KU’s internationalization goals of strategic partnership development; degree-relevant outbound student mobility at the undergraduate and graduate levels (study, research, service learning, internships), intercultural competency development of staff, faculty and students; international diversification of the student population; curriculum internationalization; faculty research engagement; transnational scholarship that engages non-American authors and topics; and international performances and exhibits.
  • Unit-Level Goal Setting for Internationalization: Using the benchmarking data and income/outcome metrics most relevant to your unit, set goals for unit-level internationalization and articulate a timeline for achieving those goals.
  • Staff and Faculty Performance Expectation-Setting: Distill unit-level internationalization goals into individually tailored goal setting and performance expectations.