McMaster faculty and students will be seeing an increase in international opportunities as a result of the establishment of the new International Strategy Advisory Group. The group, a part of the University’s internationalization plan, met for the first time in early October.

The ISAG is the first advisory group of its kind at McMaster, and will help guide the decisions made by the Office of International Affairs, including the areas of research and student international exchanges.

“Our first goal, of course, is to be sure McMaster University remains one of the leading research-intensive universities in Canada,” said Peter Mascher, Associate Vice-President (International) and chair of the ISAG. “In the modern competitive environment, if you want to be research intensive in virtually all disciplines, it means you have to have partners internationally.”

The ISAG has already established two international research funds, which have secured funding for the first year.

Another goal of the ISAG is to encourage undergraduate students to pursue international exchanges. There are currently more international students attending McMaster than there are McMaster students participating in exchanges, a trend that Mascher says is Canada-wide.

“We are looking at financial support, but we are also trying to make sure that we pre-select the universities with whom we want to engage, so that we can be sure that the students from McMaster who go somewhere will have a good experience,” said Mascher.

Soon students may be seeing a push for international exchanges and more financial support in addition to the already present travel scholarships as a result of the ISAG.

“As far as the financial support for student mobility is concerned, we need to see – we need to talk to the individual faculties,” said Mascher. “We need to find the appropriate vehicle to finance it. But the idea of incentives and support has certainly found broad agreement.”

The advisory group is made up of staff from a range of disciplines, including the areas of global health, graduate studies, social work, chemistry, epidemiology, and global justice.

“We want to eventually develop a global culture,” said Mascher. “We often talk about community engagement, we think about community as the local environment and that is of course very important, but community is much broader. If we see ourselves as citizens of the world, then the community becomes much broader.”

The ISAG will meet on a quarterly basis, with the ultimate goal to enhance McMaster’s global presence, and student and faculty engagement worldwide.

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