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ACE Internationalization Laboratory

What is the ACE Comprehensive Internationalization Laboratory?

Southeast Missouri State University was selected to participate in the 14th cohort of American Council on Education (ACE) Internationalization Laboratory Program. The program is guiding Southeast through ACE’s premier planning process toward comprehensive internationalization. Ultimately, the laboratory will help Southeast review its goals and develop a strategic plan in its international education efforts that aligns and integrates policies, programs, and initiatives to position the University as a more globally-oriented and internationally-connected institution.

President Carlos Vargas said “we are very interested in expanding the international agenda for our campus and in becoming more informed and knowledgeable about the key factors that impact an institution’s success in developing an international plan. I believe we are well positioned to take the next step in formalizing a comprehensive plan to direct our international efforts, and we welcome this opportunity.”

Provost Karl Kunkel added “preparing students for global citizenship in the 21st Century is an essential responsibility of contemporary universities. We live in an increasingly diverse and interdependent global and economic community, and being able to navigate a multi-cultural world is critical to the success of our students well beyond graduation. Southeast’s participation in the ACE Internationalization Laboratory Program provides a significant opportunity for us to further develop our ongoing strategy to internationalize our students’ experience, ultimately benefitting both their careers and personal lives.”

What is comprehensive internationalization?

the six pillars bringing comprehensive internationalization as described below

Strategic planning involving key stakeholders articulates an institution’s commitment to internationalization and provides a roadmap for implementation. Formal assessment mechanisms reinforce this commitment by framing explicit goals and holding the institution accountable for accomplishing them.

  • Strategic planning. Internationalization is prioritized in mission statements and institution-wide strategic plans and through explicit internationalization plans.
  • Internationalization committee. A steering committee comprised of representatives from across the campus is designated to oversee implementation of internationalization initiatives.
  • Campus stakeholders. Focus groups, surveys and open discussions convey priorities, address concerns and gain buy-in by students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders.
  • Assessment. Following from articulated goals, progress and outcomes of internationalization are formally measured and assessed.

The involvement of top leaders, and appropriate administrative and reporting structures form an essential framework for implementing internationalization. 

  • Senior leadership. The president and CAO are committed to internationalization and are engaged in the process from the start.
  • International office. An office or offices are designated to coordinate campus-wide internationalization activities. The faculty or staff member primarily responsible for internationalization reports to the CAO or president.

As a core purpose of higher education, student learning is a critical element of internationalization. An internationalized curriculum and co-curriculum ensure that all students are exposed to international perspectives and build global competence.  Globally-focused student learning outcomes articulate specific knowledge and skills to be addressed in courses and programs.

  • General education requirements. Courses that focus on foreign language, regional studies and global issues are included in undergraduate general education requirements.
  • Internationalized courses in the disciplines. Courses within each major incorporate international perspectives and highlight global issues in the field.
  • Co-curriculum.  Programs and activities address global issues, reinforce international elements of the curriculum, facilitate discussion and interaction among students of different backgrounds and support the integration and success of international students on campus.
  • Student learning outcomes.  Internationally-focused competencies are included in campus-wide student learning outcome goals and assessments.
  • Technology. Technology is used in innovative ways to enhance global learning, e.g. through joint coursework and interactions with students and faculty abroad.

As the primary drivers of teaching and research, faculty play a pivotal role in campus internationalization. Institutional policies and support mechanisms ensure that faculty have opportunities to develop international competence and are able to maximize the impact of these experiences on student learning.

  • Tenure and promotion policies.  Tenure codes state explicitly that international work and experience should be considered in tenure and promotion decisions.
  • Hiring guidelines. International background, experience and interests are among the criteria upon which faculty candidates are evaluated.
  • Faculty mobility. Faculty have opportunities to teach, conduct research and attend conferences abroad. Administrative and funding mechanisms support faculty participation in outside programs (e.g. Fulbright).
  • On-campus professional development.  Workshops, seminars and other programs help faculty build international competence and incorporate international perspectives into their teaching.

Student mobility, which refers both to the outward flow of domestic students to other countries to engage in an education abroad experience and the inward flow of international students to study at U.S. campuses, is often a focus of internationalization efforts. Orientations, re-entry programs and other support structures and activities help facilitate student adjustment and maximize learning.

  • Credit transfer policies. Students can easily earn credit for study abroad through approved programs.
  • Financial aid and funding. Student financial aid is applied to approved study abroad programs, and resources are available to help students locate additional funding. Scholarships and other funding are available for international students.
  • Orientation and re-entry programs. Orientation and re-entry programs help students maximize learning during study abroad, and integrate knowledge gained into their overall program of study. Academic and cultural orientation sessions are provided to all incoming international students.
  • Ongoing support and programs for international students. Academic and social support structures and programs facilitate international students’ full integration into campus life.

Establishing and managing successful collaborations and partnerships abroad is a key aspect of internationalization for many institutions. Such relationships can provide international experiences for students and faculty, enhance the curriculum, generate revenue, and raise the visibility of institutions at home and around the world. ACE recommends a 4-step approach for creating and managing international partnerships:

  • Step 1: Strategic planning. Partnerships and collaborations should be based on a careful planning process that clarifies international goals and objectives, particularly with respect to student learning outcomes. International collaborations should align with overall institutional mission and priorities, and should take into account availability of financial and personnel resources.
  • Step 2: Review possible structures. International collaboration can take many forms, and institutions should become familiar with a variety of options before talking to potential partners. Some modes of engagement will likely emerge as a better institutional fit than others; some may be rejected outright, and others may only be appropriate for partners that meet certain criteria. 
  • Step 3: Identify potential partners. It is important to analyze the higher education context in target countries,  including policies, priorities, structure, and operations.  A careful analysis can eliminate certain types of institutions as potential partners and make others a higher priority. Peer institutions in the U.S. can provide useful information on potential partners abroad, and conferences often include opportunities for direct networking with institutional representatives from other countries.
  • Step 4: On-going management.  As partnerships proliferate, institutions may find themselves with too many MOUs – often of varying scope and effectiveness.  Another common situation is for partnerships based on a personal connection to dissipate once that connection is no longer active.  Centralized coordination, engaging a broader base of faculty support, and designating certain relationships as “strategic” can help mitigate these issues.

Additional Resources

ACE Internationalization Laboratory Website

Comprehensive Internationalization Self Study Report

Executive Summary Self-study

Ace News

The Comprehensive Internationalization Leadership Team has completed a self-study of Southeast's current global engagement. The self-study provides foundational information for the Leadership Team as they move forward with the creation of recommendations on the initiatives Southeast must make in order to be a truly comprehensively internationalized institution.

All are welcome to read the self-study and provide the Leadership Team with thoughts on the information presented in the self-study, and comments on what the report is missing. Recommendations for the future initiatives are also welcome. Those who wish to provide the Leadership Team with feedback can do so in one of three ways:

  1. Attend the Public Forum on Wednesday, November 1 at 12 noon in UC Ballroom B.
  2. Email your thoughts into
  3. Share your thoughts with a member of the Comprehensive Internationalization Leadership team

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