The University of Kansas is one of 10 colleges and universities participating in the 18th cohort of the American Council on Education (ACE) Internationalization Laboratory, which provides customized guidance and insight to help colleges and universities achieve their internationalization goals.

Over the next 20 months, KU will develop strategies with the goal of long-lasting institutional change that will situate KU as a global leader among internationally engaged research universities.

“This is an extraordinary period to review the university’s internationalization capacities, assess opportunities and strategically advance our institutional priorities,” said Barbara Bichelmeyer, KU provost and executive vice chancellor. “Internationalization has significant positive implications for the university. It has the potential to elevate the quality and visibility of our research – making KU a top destination for the best scholars. It also has the capacity to enhance the learning experience for our students – helping them become more astute citizens of the United States, as well as the world.”

The lab is adapting to the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing learning modules with asynchronous activities for participants on ACE Engage, ACE’s online learning platform, as well as conducting synchronous meetings. Campus site visits will be conducted virtually until it is safe to travel. Nevertheless, networking within and beyond the cohort will still be a core component of the lab. Content will focus on crisis response and a future positive innovation framework to help institutions bounce back stronger than before from COVID-19’s disruption of international mobility around the world.

KU and the other members of Cohort 18 had the opportunity to get to know each other during a virtual “Meet and Greet” in early September. Next they will begin their asynchronous work, develop campus committees and hold discussions with advisers.

At KU, the process will kick off Friday, Nov. 20, with an initial meeting of the university’s lab steering committee and culminate in spring 2022 with the steering committee’s submission of a comprehensive internationalization plan. The lab co-chairs will be Charles Bankart, associate vice provost for international affairs; Megan Greene, associate professor of history and director of the Global Scholars program; Susan Klusmeier, vice provost for academic success, and Jennifer Roberts, vice provost for graduate studies.

“Throughout the lab, we will work hard to ensure our work remains inclusive, considers the university as a whole, and engages students, faculty and staff in as many functional and disciplinary areas as possible,” Bankart said. “Our vision for the lab is to develop a transformational internationalization plan that broadly resonates, calls us to collective and collaborative action, and reflects our rich and complex diversity.”

KU has identified five broad areas to prioritize during the process:

  • Curriculum, co-curriculum and learning outcomes
  • Mobility for student, faculty and staff
  • Research and teaching collaborations and partnerships abroad
  • Faculty and staff policies and practices
  • Administrative leadership, structure and staffing

“From Ethiopia to Puerto Rico to California, higher education institutions recognize that although internationalization may look different during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is as important as ever to be strategic about their efforts,” said Kara Godwin, director for internationalization at ACE. “I look forward to working with these institutions as they build resilience and agility into their internationalization strategies.”

Since 2002, more than 150 institutions have participated in the program. The other institutions in the 18th Internationalization Laboratory cohort:

  • Albizu University, Puerto Rico
  • Ball State University, Indiana
  • Baylor University, Texas
  • California Lutheran University
  • Fort Valley State University, Georgia
  • Jigjiga University, Ethiopia
  • Pratt Institute, New York
  • San Diego State University, California
  • Southern Illinois University.

KU has more than 1,600 international students representing over 100 countries and is home to one of the nation’s oldest and most revered accredited intensive English programs. More than 40 world languages are taught at KU, which has five area studies centers representing different regions of the world, as well as a new Title VI-funded language resource center. Among public research doctoral institutions, KU ranks 23rd in the nation for the percentage of students who study abroad (IIE Open Doors Report, November 2019).

About ACE

ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. As the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, its strength lies in its diverse membership of more than 1,700 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in America and abroad. ACE is the only major higher education association to represent all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions: two-year and four-year, public and private. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.