Work Integrated Learning, Entrepreneurship and Global Engagement

Abstract

Using case examples from Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) programs offered by the University of Georgia in the U.S. and the University of Newcastle in Australia (funded through a New Colombo Plan Grant), a highly innovative model that empowers graduates to work in global environments is presented. Specifically, cohorts of 10-12 students (from varied disciplines) in U.S. and Australian universities work collaboratively to develop a commercially viable and sustainable tourism (homestay) opportunity in a Fijian village. The program builds on the students' varied backgrounds to foster entrepreneurial skills, but also seeks to empower the women in the village (with a source of revenue). Two websites have been created to date (www.Sosostays.com and www.Fijianhomestays.com). The presentation will provide background to the project, describe the pedagogical model, and relate student experiences to their preparation for the global workplace. Future steps in terms of additional university involvement, expansion beyond Fiji, and broader funding opportunities will also be discussed. The underlying premise is that WIL not only forms a critical student experience for institutions of higher education, but that universities need to respond to a call by today's employees who are seeking graduates with a global skillset, not simply a global mindset.