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On March 5, 2008, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a Joint Resolution on International Education. Spearheaded by Sam Dunlop of St. Norbert College, the resolution recognizes that “international education is a critical component of higher education…contributing to the economy of the state and to a diverse college environment.”
“This is one of the best things the legislature can do for the state of Wisconsin,” says Gilles Bousquet, dean of University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Division of International Studies. “Education is the currency of the global knowledge economy; global citizens are what link the local to the global.”
Noting that Wisconsin’s economy is “inextricably tied to the rest of the world,” the resolution urges universities to emphasize foreign language instruction and study abroad to promote cultural awareness and give graduates the cross-cultural skills they will need to be leaders in the global work force.
Now more than ever, Wisconsin residents are encountering the changes wrought by increasingly interdependent markets, corporate outsourcing, and new labor demographics. With international teaching, research, and partnerships, institutions of higher learning around Wisconsin prepare global leaders and attract global talent to the state.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison, for example, offers majors in international studies, certificates in international and area studies, and language instruction in more than 65 languages, many of them less commonly-taught. Last year it sent 1600 students abroad on one of its more than 180 programs located in 51 countries.