When Sean Maxwell went to Bolivia last June to shoot a documentary, he returned with more than just a film.
The senior BTMM student brought back a greater understanding of Bolivian culture through the countless photographs he took there.
The best of Maxwell’s pictures will be exhibited alongside dozens of international projects by students, faculty and staff at the second annual Global Temple Conference on Nov. 13 in the Student Center.
This year’s conference coincides with International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. The conference will begin today at 9:15 a.m. with an address by J. David Edwards, executive director of the Joint National Committee for Languages and International Studies.
Following the opening session, attendees can sit in on roundtable discussions, paper presentations and film screenings inspired by international research. Art, photography and poster exhibits will also be available for viewing all day. The celebration will close this evening with the “Global Temple Live!” concert, featuring musical performances from cultures around the world.
University faculty launched the conference in 2006 to highlight Temple’s interest in global issues. Last year’s conference attracted about 200 submissions and 500 visitors.
“There are faculty who do international work. There are students who do international work. Yet they’re kind of scattered in different departments and they never speak to each other,” conference organizer and geography and urban studies professor Sanjoy Chakravorty said.
In addition to encouraging collaboration across the university, organizers want to help students realize the vastness of the world.
For 10 years, architecture professor J. Brooke Harrington strategized with students and colleagues about how to rebuild the war-torn city of Mostar, Bosnia. He will present their findings during a conference session focused on global cityscapes.
“In universities, you want to make sure that the young people and the professionals that are coming up realize that they’re having to deal with people outside of their own country,” Harrington said.
About one-third of this year’s submissions came from undergraduate and graduate students, Chakravorty said. Some, like a film which chronicles a Hindu cremation ceremony, were produced during university-sponsored study abroad programs, while others, like Maxwell’s, are the product of independent study funded by grants. Many presentations highlight student and staff participation in service activities within Philadelphia.
“It really shows how internationalized we are and how much people are doing,” Denise Connerty, director of international programs, said of the event. “That can get lost at a big university like this if there’s not a way to bring it together and give it a focus.”
About 1,000 Temple undergraduate and graduate students study abroad each year through exchanges, individual schools and colleges, or at the university’s international campuses.
Connerty said most do not cite research as a reason for their travels, but “they certainly want to know more about the country that they’re going to.”
The Global Temple Conference is one of many recent events that underscore Temple’s emergence as a global player in education.
In addition to paying passport costs for first-time study abroad students, Temple President Ann Weaver Hart has broadened the university’s international focus through creating relationships with universities abroad.
Earlier this month, Hart signed an agreement to allow students at six Taiwanese universities to earn Temple graduate degrees after completing their undergraduate programs at their respective colleges.
Connerty said Hart’s influence has sparked a “culture change” on campus that is evident in the level of student participation in this year’s conference.
“It makes such a huge difference,” she said. “When at the very top, somebody is just calling out and shouting out how very important it is for students to get a global experience.”
Benae Mosby can be reached at email@example.com