Elon University has adopted a new global strategic plan aimed to maintain and expand its national reputation as a leader in global education, which includes its 18-year recognition as #1 in study abroad by the Institute of International Education.

“The plan will continue to further Elon’s commitment to comprehensive internationalization, to ensure that all students graduate with the global perspectives, knowledge, cultural awareness, and humility needed to thrive in today’s world,” according to the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center.

In 2011, Elon introduced a draft of a plan to improve global education. Until now, the university did not have any global strategic plan in place. The 2011 drafted plan laid out the groundwork for what is seen at Elon today, according to Dean of Global Education Nick Gozik. This included the development of the Global Neighborhood, the introduction of a Global Experience course and a commitment to 100% access for study abroad.

Through the new plan, Elon will expand and utilize existing university partnerships, developing new meaningful international connections for faculty, staff and students to develop more global perspectives.

The plan also includes the redesign of the Elon global website, in order to create a more dynamic and international hub for related news and stories of members of the Elon community and university partners. 

Ensuring that global programming is accessible to all Elon students is a key factor of the new strategic plan, regardless of background, identity or area of study.

“The current plan picks up where the previous left off, with the goal of ensuring that Elon remains at the forefront of global education,” Gozik said.

Senior global student ambassador Emma Russello studied away from Elon during her entire junior year through the Elon in New York program and to Dublin, Ireland. She emphasized the importance of abroad and study away programs being accessible to every student, regardless of their major or background. 

“I feel like some students think they can’t go because of their major,” Russello said. “Making it more accessible is good to make sure that everyone is aware that they have the opportunity to go abroad.”

Opportunities for students to learn about study abroad and global programs are crucial, according to Russello. The new global strategic plan highlights the availability of resources and advising for students to learn about study abroad and global programs.

“I don’t think there was a lot of that when I was going abroad, and I was very nervous,” Russello said. “I would have loved to talk to somebody that had gone abroad before, but I didn’t really know the resources for that.”

Elon aims to attain a 90% student participation rate of undergraduate students in study away, including study abroad and Study USA, according to the GEC.

“One of the top reasons students come to Elon is for study abroad,” Gozik said. “We would be doing a disservice to our students if we did not prepare them well for a much more interconnected world.”

Some of the goals of the new global strategic plan include:

  • Create additional opportunities for students to deepen and reflect on their study away experiences and integrate what they learn off campus into their studies at Elon.
  • Ensure that global programming is accessible to all Elon students, regardless of background, identity, or area of study.
  • Deepen on-campus curricular and co-curricular offerings to incorporate a greater global focus and to further internationalize the curriculum.
  • For undergraduate students, augment academic advising across all four years to include a global perspective.
  • Create a new Elon-led overseas program/center, based on Elon’s strengths of engaged, stacked learning experiences designed to reinforce each other, with the goal of developing a new model for global education.
  • Further develop support systems and structures for both the dynamic and changing needs of the international community and anticipated growth among international students.

To Elon, global is not just something that happens when students are abroad for a semester or Winter Term. 

“Global begins when they first arrive on campus and continues until graduation and beyond,” Gozik said. “It is hard to imagine that any graduate today will not be required to work with people who are different from them. They will need the types of skills that are gained from global education, including knowledge of other cultures, adaptability, language proficiency and intercultural awareness.”

Elon’s new global strategic plan is designed to further develop support systems and structures for both the dynamic and changing needs of the international community, and one of Elon's goals in the future is to increase the number of international students accepted. Right now, Elon has more than 400 international students out of 6,402 undergraduate students. 

“The new plan is ambitious, asking us to both deepen and expand global initiatives,” Gozik said. “Elon has designed a space to integrate the global initiatives that have already taken place while providing support for students, faculty and staff — including the international community and those who have been historically marginalized and underrepresented.”

Elon’s goal is to ensure that international students have a smooth transition into the school and its culture. 

“They do a good job really welcoming international students,” sophomore Sakura Kawakami, who was born in Japan and has lived in Australia and Dubai, said. “They made the transition easier, from living abroad to coming and adopting American culture.”

The plan also emphasizes and encourages a more global mindset, welcoming all people from any background with open arms. 

“I think it's really important for all students to have a global world view, where they not only understand their world view from one perspective from a little area,” Kawakami said. “It's important to understand different world views, and I think that's what international students can bring; they can bring another perspective.”