NEWS UPDATE: Since posting the below story (on April 12, 2012), Jessica Ventura went on to win a first place award in the Best Professional Paper category at the Northeast ASEE conference, which included a cash prize as well. To read her paper in its entirety, click here. Congratulations, Jessica.

When Jessica Ventura, assistant professor of kinesiology, extended her research by teaching a class in Honduras through Gordon’s Global Education Office (GEO), she discovered more than the mechanical and physiological bases of human movement. She also realized the importance of preparing students for cultural experiences before they embark on overseas programs and to solidify those experiences once they return. As a result, she will be presenting the work Gordon’s GEO does as an example during the American Society of Engineering Education 2012 North East Conference, April 27-28 at U-Mass Lowell. Her paper “Developing Intercultural Sensitivity through Directed Global Education Programming,” will be published with their final conference proceedings. Here’s Ventura’s abstract of her paper:

“In view of the impact globalization has on engineering, many colleges and universities have made global experiences part of their undergraduate programs. When developing a global engineering program, educators should start by assessing where students are on the spectrum of intercultural sensitivity when they enter and thereby determine how the program can best succeed in increasing their sensitivity. If engineers have not been exposed to worldviews that differ from their own, they will assume that everyone holds to similar views. Thus, the first step in attaining intercultural sensitivity is to understand the dimensions of culture. From a different angle, educators should also present students with the stages of intercultural sensitivity, which range from experiences of ethno-centralism to ethno-relativism. Directed programming that brings students into discussions about these points prior to and following global experiences adds significant value to those experiences and can easily be implemented alongside overseas opportunities.”