Koloski: Toward 'Great, Public and Global'

  • Laurie Koloski

    Laurie Koloski

"Great, public and global" is how Laurie Koloski sums up her vision for the College of William and Mary. Give her another breath, and "engaged and empathetic" might be added. For Koloski, director of the Reves Center for International Studies and associate professor of history, the individual terms express her belief that the College intentionally must internationalize in order to meet the future.

Whether a person places a positive or a negative value on globalization, the fact is that William and Mary graduates will enter a globalized world, according to Koloski. "If our job is to prepare them to go out in that world and to function as effective, empathetic and engaged global citizens, then internationalization is the way we get there," she said.

In an academic sense, internationalization involves integrating global and intercultural dimensions into every facet of the university, including the admissions process, residence life, research opportunities, the core curriculum etc. in order to create citizens who are capable of producing impacts.

"To be an effective citizen means knowing how the world works," she explained.

Koloski pointed toward numerous faculty research initiatives and to many formal international exchange programs to suggest that the College increasingly is international. She also remains amazed at the level of student interest in traveling overseas as volunteers. "There are a couple dozen international service-learning projects—students on their own are traveling all around the world. They are voting for us. They do it not just because they are committed but because they realize this is what it means to be effective in a globalized world."

As a member of a committee established by College President Gene Nichol to study ways in which the College can become more "international," Koliski is optimistic that the international future for the university is bright. The committee, she explained, currently is proceeding in three phases. The first step will be to create an inventory of courses, research interests and related factors to determine what the community is doing internationally. "I'm quite convinced that we do way more than we know we do," she said. The second step will be to examine best-practices at other universities in order to not re-create the wheel. The third step will be to present recommendations as to short-term, medium-term and long-term internationalization goals while maintaining a focus on the College's core values.

In terms of her long-range hopes, Koloski said, "I see us as participating in a sort of global-informational exchange."

In terms of the pay-off, she added, "We are accepting the fact that being a global citizen means being savvy about not just who you are and where you are … but about the world in a broader sense, a world in the sense that what you do here in Williamsburg … may affect what someone in Bangalore, India, is doing at any given moment, and vice-versa." To be in that position translates into economic, social and political benefits for the Commonwealth and into a more valuable life for individuals, she said.