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PUBLICATIONS Inside Illinois Vol. 21, No. 11, Dec. 6, 2001

New initiative to foster high school students’ knowledge of other nations

ByMelissa Mitchell, News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 333-5491; melissa@illinois.edu

Educators at the UI believe that now, more than ever before, there is a critical need for Americans to have a deeper knowledge and understanding of international issues. And one way to accomplish that in Illinois is through the new International High School Program.

The program, announced last month by Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan, is funded by a $500,000 appropriation from the state to the Illinois Consortium for International Education and the UI, and will be administered by the UI’s International Programs and Studies.

"The goal of this program is to better prepare tomorrow’s leaders and business people for a world that is more and more culturally diverse," Ryan said in a recent news release.

UI Chancellor Nancy Cantor said the program will be "another way in which our university engages with the people of Illinois and students in Illinois high schools. With this new knowledge about the world, our high school students will be more informed citizens and leaders for the future for our state, nation and the world."

IPS program director Madeleine Jaehne, a member of Ryan’s task force that developed the IHS initiative, said the program’s goals include improving teaching and learning by reaching students and teachers at all Illinois high schools, regardless of enrollment figures or on-site course availability.

"The initiative is unique in that it will affect schools across the state instead of offering many programs that are wonderful, but affect only one or two schools, and are in effect Band-Aid solutions," Jaehne said. "This program will provide a base standard upon which schools can then build.

And, she said, "it is not elitist – the program and the governor’s vision was to enable every future citizen and every high school, no matter its resources, the opportunity to participate in the program."

Through the IHS program, schools will be able to identify and strengthen existing courses with content that focuses on other countries and cultures. Students at small schools lacking foreign-language courses will be able to plug into such programs online through the Illinois Virtual High School and the Illinois Virtual Campus.

Another component of the program is the International Career Academy, a global summer immersion experience. A subset of students enrolled in the international track at an IHS will be selected to participate in the academy.

"The program is very unusual – or perhaps, unique – among the states in the U.S., therefore Illinois is a leader in all of this," said Earl Kellogg, UI associate provost for international affairs, IPS director and interim director of the IHS initiative. The UI was chosen to administer the grant, he said, "because we have the largest, strongest international program in the state of Illinois and the largest number of academic units that have materials that can contribute to the development of the curriculum, as well as much experience in assisting people studying abroad."

The program’s benefits ultimately will be visible in more ways than one, according to Kellogg.

"Those of us in higher education think about preparing students to continue their education in institutions of higher education, and those students who participate in the IHS program will be better prepared in languages, better prepared to study abroad and to study international issues. But there are many high school graduates who don’t go on to college; they, too, need to become more aware of what’s going on in the world because they are important citizens of our state and nation, and will be leaders as well – in industry, as local mayors and city council people. It’s just as important that they understand this complex world and the issues involved."


News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
507 E. Green St., Suite 345, Champaign, Illinois 61820
Telephone 217-333-1085, Fax 217-244-0161, E-mail news@illinois.edu
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