Michigan State University: A Model for Internationalization

Now one of the largest research universities in the world and a member of the Association of American Universities, Michigan State University is distinguished by the strength of its historical and contemporary international involvement. We have become a recognized leader in incorporating global perspectives into a land grant philosophy. The university's mission statement incorporates this expansive vision: ". . . as a pioneer Land Grant institution, Michigan State University strives to discover practical uses for theoretical knowledge, and to speed the diffusion of information to residents of the state, nation, and the world."

MSU has been a leader in developing a useful organizational model—the "matrix" model—to meet the challenges of internationalization within the institution. In addition to serving this university well, our model has been adapted by other universities to meet their needs.

Faculty are the core of Michigan State University's international strength. Currently, MSU has more than 1,400 faculty who are engaged in international scholarship, instruction, and work abroad.

A defining characteristic of the MSU model is that International Studies and Programs does not have its own solely assigned faculty. Consistent with the policy of spreading the international dimension throughout the university, all faculty members have their major academic appointments in university departments or schools. All degrees of an international nature are earned in departments and colleges, rather than in a central school for international study.

Internationally engaged faculty are linked to ISP and its centers and institutes through dual appointments, core faculty membership status in the centers and institutes, and work and activity financially supported by  ISP. Working individually as well as collectively through their academic departments and colleges, faculty members play central roles in defining instructional, research, and outreach priorities.

Colleges and departments and their internationally oriented centers and institutes all enhance and project MSU's international strengths. International Studies and Programs has been an important partner and catalyst in that process as it seeks to stimulate an international dimension across all aspects of the academic mission and throughout all administrative units of the university.

At MSU, International Studies and Programs is a constellation of offices, centers, institutes, and programs administratively housed throughout the university. The core activities of most of these units are driven by interdisciplinary groups of faculty drawn from throughout MSU's academic colleges.

The Office of the Dean of International Studies and Programs facilitates program development and implementation in cooperation with deans of  MSU academic and professional colleges. The dean has direct responsibility for the five area studies centers and 11 other programs and offices.