Partnership with Chinese student affairs program places OSU at the center of international conversations
A partnership between student affairs professionals in China and Oklahoma State University is paving the way for collaborative student affairs research and international professional development.
OSU formed the Joint Center for Student Affairs Research and Professional Practice with the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB) in 2018. The center is a partnership between the OSU Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program, the OSU Division of Students Affairs and USTB. Since its launch, the center has organized two international symposiums, hosted multiple visiting Chinese scholars on campus, conducted the Global Perspectives on Higher Education and Student Affairs Lecture Series, secured internships in China for OSU master’s students and is preparing to publish a book that explores research on emerging international issues in student affairs.
Dr. Steve Wanger, director of the center and associate professor of higher education and student affairs, sees growing international interest in student affairs. At the most recent international symposium in Beijing, student affairs professionals and HESA alumni from Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand gathered with OSU faculty and graduate students and more than 130 Chinese student affairs professionals.
The international symposium paves the way for future research partnerships and allows student affairs professionals to identify common issues that higher education students face across cultures. OSU speakers included, Dr. Stephan Wilson, dean of the College of Human Sciences and interim dean of the College of Education, Health and Aviation; Dr. Doug Hallenback, vice president for student affairs; Dr. Steve Wanger and Dr. Amber Manning-Ouellette, HESA faculty; and HESA graduate students who presented posters on their research.
“Education doesn't stop at the Atlantic or the Pacific,” Wanger said. “The influence of education is global, and what happens in France or the United Kingdom or China impacts what happens here in the U.S.”
Mental health, the financing of higher education and the influence of globalization, technology, social media and emerging pedagogies are common issues that student affairs professionals around the world experience, Wanger said. However, many universities outside of the U.S. are only beginning to prepare student affairs professionals. Among U.S. universities though, OSU’s partnership between student affairs professionals and academic researchers is particularly strong.
“Historically, OSU has been at the forefront of student affairs,” Wanger said. “For example, former OSU president Robert B. Kamm made a significant and very positive impact on the development of student affairs in the U.S.”
The OSU Division of Student Affairs cultivates and supports OSU student life professionally, while emerging issues in student affairs are researched by professors and graduate students in the HESA program. Both areas work collaboratively to prepare future student affairs leaders
Students benefit from both the professional and academic partnership and from the center’s international focus. International internships, short-term and long-term study abroad experiences and comparative research are only a few of the opportunities the center affords OSU students.
“There are extensive opportunities to broaden one’s understanding of higher education and student affairs,” Wanger said. “We’re not just looking at what happens in the U.S.; we’re looking at higher education and student affairs globally because it’s all interconnected.”
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