Stetson’s Inaugural International Faculty Development Seminar Draws Diverse Disciplines to the Dominican Republic

A total of 10 Stetson University faculty and the WORLD Team descended on Santo Domingo during May 13-18, 2019 to learn how to better prepare students to learn abroad. Faculty hailed from business, education, humanities, social and natural sciences.

The seminar comprised classroom sessions on topics ranging from risk management and internationalization to curriculum integration and course assessment. Field trips to heritage locations and natural landscapes, such as the old colonial sugar mills and Three Eyes National Park, helped faculty consider the role of “place” in course design as well as how to balance high and low intensity learning experiences for students.

Los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes National Park) is a 50-yard open-air limestone cave located in eastern Santo Domingo.

Response to the seminar has been quite positive.

I feel so fortunate to be part of the journey we were on together. I feel that our relationship went to the next level…The moment we started together and ended pleasantly, it was a lesson in every moment and I am confident that this training will be helpful for all in launching our faculty led programs in future.”

Yes, echoing my colleagues for a wonderful opportunity and collegiality. Thank you WORLD and thank you everyone who participated 😍”

Thank you all for such a unique and valuable experience in DR. I would be happy to meet for regular lunches sharing ideas about the next steps in organizing faculty-led study abroad trips. Special thanks to the WORLD. You are a great team of professionals!🤗”

I’m continually amazed at and proud to be a part of Stetson’s wonderful community.”

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About the Stetson International Faculty Development Seminar

The IFDS program at Stetson University honors the longstanding commitment and dedication of Drs. David and Leighan Rinker to international learning. The centerpiece of the faculty development program is an immersive five-day experience where Stetson faculty participate in study abroad. The overarching goals are to equip Stetson teacher-scholars with best practice strategies for how to use location to deepen content, elevate student engagement and intercultural learning, develop safe, compliant and academically-rich study abroad programs, and promote Stetson’s value of global citizenship.

WORLD partnered with CIEE to co-offer the seminar. CIEE is a premier provider with significant expertise developing and implementing international faculty development seminars and study abroad experiences for students,. Contact for more information.

Recap: 2018 Inaugural Global Citizenship Symposium

Schedule of Events
What is Global Citizenship?

During April 6-17, 2018, Stetson University celebrated its inaugural Global Citizenship Symposium. This year’s event investigated immigration from the lenses of education, laws and policy, economy and business, identity, and the immigrant experience. The two-week event brought the world to Stetson University to grapple with borders and difference through diverse presentations ranging from panel presentations to creative expression. Most events offered Cultural Credit.

Opening Panel: Global Citizenship Symposium 
(Special session during the Colloquium on Teaching & Learning Innovation)

This panel session marked the launch of the Global Citizenship Symposium on Immigration, a multi-day interdisciplinary series of events exploring a topic of highly charged political debates and a site of crucial struggles for human and civil rights. Dr. Jelena Petrovic, assistant professor of communication and media studies, and Paula Hentz, director of international learning, discussed the need for placing immigration at the core of Stetson University’s commitment to global citizenship by developing systematic initiatives and resources for addressing the needs of immigrants in the campus community.

Campus Screening and Discussion of “Indivisible”

In collaboration with Hope CommUnity Center, the Deland Campus community viewed the documentary Indivisible: Love Knows No Borders”. The film follows Renata, Evelyn, and Antonio who were young children when their parents brought them to the U.S. in search of a better life; they were teenagers when their mothers, fathers, and siblings were deported. Today, they are known as Dreamers. Frustrated with the stalled legislative process, the trio take matters into their own hands and petition for a special waiver that would allow them to leave the U.S to visit their families—and legally return. The screening was followed by discussion with Evelyn Rivera, activist and one of the main protagonists featured in the documentary. Rivera discussed the experience of participating in the documentary as well as challenges she and the others featured in the documentary experienced as they were fighting for immigration reform while undocumented.

Acirema Interactive Simulation

Acirema,  America spelled backwards, is an immigration simulation game designed to expose participants to the hurdles foreigners face when the come to the USA as to study abroad as students. Acerima was presented by WORLD Ambassadors and the Muslim Students Association. Any domestic student interested in learning more about the study abroad experience of Stetson’s international community was invited to participate. During the simulation, ambassadors and MSA students played roles as immigration officers, college admission officers, bankers, language proficiency examiners,  and more, to construct an authentic learning experience for participants. Each domestic student took on the role of a foreign student in order to to learn how to independently navigate the admissions and immigration process at an American college college.  Acirema is commonly used by international educators to encourage understanding and empathy for foreign students and employees.

Exhibit on Immigrant Art and Literature

Over the course of two days, students, faculty, and staff viewed and reflected on selected artwork and poetry about and by immigrants.  Hosted at the duPont Ball Library, exhibits featured the works of artists from other parts of the country as well as Stetson students’ poetry. Each artistic piece invited readers to think about struggle, discrimination, and invisibility of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Children’s Literature and Immigration

During this interactive session, Dr. Carine Strebel and Dr. Mary Ellen Oslick shared children’s books and books written for young adolescent readers that depict immigrants’ reasons for leaving their home country, their at time perilous journey to a better life, and their stories of arrival and integration into the new environment. They discussed the benefits of (multi)culturally responsive literature for students, shared tips for evaluating and selecting multicultural literature, and facilitated a “tabletop twitter” activity in which the audience examined books and then shared personal experiences and insights gained through hashtags, a tweet on paper, a quote, or a quote.

Arepas, Tacos, and More: Foodways of the Latin America Diaspora

During this popular symposium event, Dr. Ana Servigna, visiting assistant profesor of anthropology, adjunct professor Maria Servigna, and students Valeria Servigna and Angelica Martinez, shared information about Latin American culinary traditions that are currently influencing the U.S. gastronomic scene. Arepas are a type of food made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. Students were able to sample Latin American foods and make their own arepas!

Common Treasure: Celebrating the UN Day of Peace

Dr. Rajni Shankar Brown, associate professor of education and the Jessie Ball DuPont Chair of Social Justice Education, Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholar services coordinator, and Lindsey Graves, assistant director of Interfaith Initiatives, teamed up to educate the Stetson community about the annual UN Day of Peace and ongoing world peace efforts. Shankar-Brown laid the foundation by reviewing The UN Peace Accord and the history of its creation while Graves and Lewis presented a recap of Stetson’s response to the UN Call for Peace over the past two years.  Comments and suggestions from the audience will frame Stetson’s 2018 Peace Day activities. The activity affirmed Stetson University’s commitment to addressing peace as a critical element of global citizenship.

Campus Screening and Discussion of “Dalya’s Other Country”

This screening of “Dalya’s Other Country” was presented by Dr. Elisabeth Poeter and students from her Gender and Migration course. The documentary shares the personal story of a Syrian woman and her daughter immigrating to the US to escape war in their home country.  Following the film, the presenters engaged the audience in a robust conversation about immigration including common misconceptions and how immigration is typically represented in the media.

History, Politics and Policy
Immigration Panel

Is an “open border” policy possible and beneficial? In a lively debate, Dr. Paul Croce, professor of history, Dr. David Hill, professor of political science, Dr. Alan Green, professor of economics, and Dr. Steven Smallpage, assistant professor of political science, invited audience members to consider this question through an interdisciplinary lens and immigration as a phenomenon shaped by politics, economy, and U.S. history.

 Immigration and Business

During this presentation, Lou Paris, instructor of international business and new venture creation, shared his personal stories of immigration from Venezuela to Canada, Spain, Germany, and the United States.  He also discussed how immigration impacts and improves business globally.

Undocumented Students 

In this workshop facilitated by the Hope CommUnity Center, audience members learned more about the personal stories of undocumented citizens in the Central Florida community.

Students, faculty and staff basked in the beautiful sunshine surrounded by the sights, sounds, and delicious foods and activities representing the various cultures found on the Stetson campus.

Members of the Stetson international community organized tables outside of the CUB where they highlighted information about their home country, provided samples of traditional food, and informed guests on immigration statistics.  Eman Elsayed Eltaher Mahmoud Abdelhalim, Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant and Arabic instructor at Stetson, showed participants how to spell their names in Arabic and dressed women in traditional garb. Attendees learned about different immigrant populations in the US, where they settle, why they immigrated, and where else in the world they tend to go.  Countries represented included Australia, Brazil, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Venezuela, the UK, and others.

Lifting Our Lamps: Protecting the Human Rights of Refugee and Migrant Individuals, Families, and Children

Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, associate professor of education and the Jessie Ball DuPont Chair of Social Justice Education, led a discussion on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how it pertains to today’s refugee crisis.  Participants engaged in creating an art display which shows Stetson’s commitment to promoting peace and supporting human rights.

Panel: Gender and Migration

Students in Dr. Elisabeth Poeter’s Gender and Migration course (GEND 400) presented research projects which examined the intersectionality between gender and immigration status.  Students’ research topics included an investigation into Syrian refugee women’s experiences; statelessness and state-created vulnerability; and migratory patterns of black LGBT+ people.

Stetson University extends deepest appreciation to the 2018 Global CItizenship Symposium Planning Committee:

  • Dr. Jelena Petrovic, assistant professor of communication and media studies
  • Paula Hentz, director of international learning
  • Dr. Carine Strebel, assistant professor of education and coordinator of English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • Dr. Chris Ferguson, professor of psychology
  • Mirrett Saad, student representative
  • Dr. Jessica West, assistant professor of finance; and
  • Dr. Sam Houston, Brown Visiting Teacher-Scholar Fellow in Islamic studies

The symposium is a program of WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning at Stetson University.

Stetson’s first annual Global Citizenship Symposium starts Friday, April 6

WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center is excited to present Stetson’s first annual Global Citizenship Symposium, beginning Friday, April 6, through April 17.  The Symposium was developed with the goals of providing education, support and opportunities for activism around topics of global significance.

This year’s theme is Immigration.

As a global and local phenomenon, immigration is not only the topic of highly charged political debates, but also the site of crucial struggles for human and civil rights. This year’s Symposium offers many opportunities for conversations, debates and direct actions that highlight the importance of these struggles, especially in relation to education, economy and business, identity and the immigrant experience.

A schedule of events is available online. Cultural credit and food will be offered at most of the events.  We invite the community to join us for interdisciplinary panels, workshops, exhibits, film screenings, and hands-on activities, and learn how immigration impacts Stetson and nearby communities.

For questions about the symposium, please email

Paula Hentz
Director of International Learning
World: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning

Call for Presentations at Stetson’s Inaugural Global Citizenship Symposium: April 6-17, 2018

Stetson University invites proposal submissions to its inaugural  Global Citizenship Symposium. The Symposium kicks off on April 6, 2018  with events continuing through April 17, 2018.

Call for Proposals
Deadline: March 13, 2018

The Symposium is a forum for the Stetson and broader communities to celebrate, grapple with, and implement viable collaborative actions related to global issues of local and regional significance.  While this year’s core theme is Immigration, presentations are invited that address topics such as the internationalization of curriculum and campuses, the value of international education, experiential learning in local and global communities, the roles of immigration in business, law, health, and more.

Presentation types range from panels, workshops, and simulations to sharing of personal stories and creative expression.