• EPP/GEO 238S - Forest Bathing (Oct. 2021)

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic closed campus, UMF was fortunate to receive an Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UIFLS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of the UIFLS grant is to encourage the further internationalization of UMF’s curriculum through the development of two new programs: Virtual Global Experiences (VGE) and Global First Year Seminars (GFYS). These, in part, make up the UMF Global Classrooms. 

These Global Classrooms Project provides unique opportunities for UMF to:

  • Foster the internationalization of its curriculum
  • Increase student interest in international and foreign language studies
  • Provide professional development support to faculty in order to achieve the above goals

Virtual Global Experiences (VGE)

The Virtual Global Experiences (VGE) program is designed to provide students with opportunities to collaborate with students around the world through virtual exchanges, commonly referred to as Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). 

Faculty develop a VGE module in one of their courses with an international colleague teaching a similar or related course at their university. The UMF and international students learn about each other’s country — their culture, history, political and economic systems — and collaborate through virtual platforms to plan an event or create a presentation that relates to their course and each participating country. The final product is then shown to students, whether it’s in a classroom setting or for the UMF community to enjoy. 

Through collaboration on a small group project in each course, the students learn key skills sought after in our global economy, including:

  • Gain new global perspectives
  • Develop cultural self-awareness
  • Strengthen their intercultural competencies

For more information about our VGEs, please visit the VGE archive.

Global First Year Seminars (GFYS)

An important component of the Global Classrooms project is the development of a new type of First Year Seminar that permits incoming students to have a global experience before they even arrive on campus. The development and establishment of the Global First Year Seminar (GFYS) program is possible through the UIFLS grant from the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Global First Year Seminar begins with a UMF faculty member and a small group of first-year students traveling to another country to conduct 10 days of field work in collaboration with an international faculty member and their students. Upon return to UMF, they will continue their GFYS class along with their other fall semester courses, working with their international colleagues on a project via the VGE program. Like UMF’s domestic-based First Year Fusion courses, GFYS is highly experiential with a global twist.

GFYS Japan – August 2023

Although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the program’s piloting, the first GFYS program will launch in August 2023 when incoming first-year students go to Japan. Incoming UMF students will be traveling to Tokyo, Kyoto and Akita where they will participate in a local festival and travel to various cultural sites with students from UMF’s sister school, Akita International University. 

To learn more about what UMF’s current and future GFYS offerings and to learn more about what students may get out of their experience, visit UMF’s Global First Year Seminar page.

Stay tuned for more information about the Global Seminar to Senegal in Winter 2024!

Cross-Cultural Programming

Each semester, the Office of Experiential & Global Education (OEGE) organizes various co-curricular activities to promote study abroad and more general global education and experiences. Under the Global Classrooms initiative, the OEGE offers Cross-Cultural Programming, which is connected to the Virtual Global Experiences (VGE) to enhance the students’ understanding and appreciation of the countries and cultures of their international partners while exposing the entire UMF community to these cross-cultural experiences. 

UMF Global Competency Micro-Credentials

Students who participate in different globally-focused activities, events, training(s), and experiential opportunities can earn Global Competency Micro-Credentials from the University of Maine System.

Students looking to earn the micro-credential will:

  • increase their awareness of global issues and cultural diversity
  • enhance their understanding and appreciation of other cultures and perspectives on global issues
  • understand how their actions can affect both local and global communities, and
  • gain intercultural fluency, resilience and adaptability through shared experiences that permit you to participate in international dialogues on the world’s most pressing and enduring issues collaboratively and equitably.

To earn the Global Competency Micro-Credential, students must complete all three levels in the Global Competency Pathway. To learn more, visit the UMF Global Competency Learning Pathway page.

Blue and white crest for Global Competency Micro-Credential level 1
Blue and white crest for Global Competency Micro-Credential level 2
Blue and white crest for Global Competency Micro-Credential level 3

Faculty Development Opportunities

Under the UIFLS grant, UMF faculty and their international partners are also provided with professional development opportunities to assist them with the creation of these new programs.

In fall 2020, eight UMF faculty and staff participated in a workshop on Global Learning Experience, and another 14 UMF staff and faculty members along with six international partners participated in UNICollaboration workshops to familiarize them with Collaborative International Online Learning and help them develop Virtual Global Experience modules.

In addition, the UIFLS grant provides funding for faculty participation in professional conferences organized by the:

  • American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)
  • Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA)
  • Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME)
  • Forum on Education Abroad
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)

In an effort to share their experiences and initial findings with colleagues, UMF faculty and staff have presented at the AAC&U, the Forum, and NAFSA, with plans to present at the AAC&U this February. The focus of these presentations has been on the ways in which Virtual Global Experiences can increase access and equity in Global Learning.

For more information about Cross-Cultural Programming, contact:

Office of Experiential & Global Education
University of Maine at Farmington
106 Fusion Space
117 South Street
Farmington, Maine 04938