Great Lakes Colleges Association

Strengthening Education in the Tradition of the Liberal Arts

Global Liberal Arts Alliance

Global Crossroads

Global Crossroads Context

The challenges confronting liberal arts education in our time have never been more pervasive and complex. On the one hand, the mission of providing an education for life that combines breadth of knowledge with focused study in a major faces stiffened competition from a worldview that regards simple career preparation as the preeminent purpose of education. At the same time, the growing conviction within our profession is that an undergraduate education that consists solely of academic pursuit within the classroom, library, or laboratory does a disservice to students if it does not include significant opportunities to engage meaningfully with people and achievements of other cultural, ethnic, and linguistic traditions, whether they are in a distant part of the world or in a nearby community.

A liberal arts education today must substantially enhance our students’ global awareness and understanding, both in the curriculum and in co-curricular programs of learning. While accomplishing this heightened purpose may be within the resources of major universities, for small liberal arts colleges it presents a formidable challenge. None of our colleges alone enjoys the financial or academic resources that can fully achieve the purpose of imparting more robust elements of global awareness and understanding in their campus communities. For our kinds of colleges, inter-institutional, interdisciplinary, and intercultural collaboration offers the most exciting and feasible approach to instilling heightened global understanding among faculty and their students. Embracing this approach provides an opportunity to define a new domain of programmatic strength for liberal arts colleges whose impact would extend well beyond internationalizing the curriculum.

Building on the strong cross-campus relationships that have developed over time, the GLCA seeks to leverage the collective expertise of the consortium to develop programs in ways that enhance offerings across our campuses while containing costs. Such a collective approach requires a bold and creative transformation in thinking, organization, program development, and pedagogical strategy. While challenging in its own right, the potential is significant; so much more can be accomplished by a collection of colleges working collaboratively than can ever be accomplished by taking independent paths to a globalized future.

Global Crossroads Overview

Through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Great Lakes Colleges Association is launching Global Crossroads, a four-year collection of programs to advance internationalization of the programs of learning that define our undergraduates’ experience of the liberal arts. Collaboration among GLCA colleges leading to durable partnerships is the essential building block on which Crossroads-supported efforts will be built. These collaborations may also include members of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, an international partnership of 29 U.S.-style liberal arts institutions representing 17 countries (including the thirteen members of the GLCA). The Alliance’s goal is to support excellence in liberal arts education through linkages with institutions (and their historical, cultural, religious, environmental, and economic contexts) in other parts of the world.

Global Crossroads consists of eight independent programs. While GLCA campuses may choose which programs to participate in, the initiative was designed to support inter-institutional collaboration, and to encourage institutions to think holistically and consider how achieving an institutional internationalization goal could be pursued through coordinated participation across multiple programs within the institution. To ensure that a campus’ Crossroads efforts are coordinated and will contribute to achieving institutional goals, all Crossroads proposals must be shared with and submitted by the campus’ Alliance Liaison.

Funding is tied to participation; a GLCA campus will receive funding based on the programs it chooses to participate in each year. Participation must demonstrably advance the campus’ internationalization efforts.

Summaries of these programs are provided below. The respective Calls for Proposals for each program appear later in this document. There is also a Global Crossroads FAQ.

Crossroads Programs For GLCA Campuses

International Innovation Fund – This program provides support for each GLCA campus to advance its goals to internationalize the programs of learning that define an undergraduate’s experience of the liberal arts. There will be one proposal per campus, submitted by the campus’ Alliance Liaison.
Innovation Fund Call for Proposals    Innovation Fund Proposal Summary Form

Grand Challenge – A Grand Challenge is a topic of global significance that transcends disciplinary boundaries and has important implications for humanity. Each year, exploration of a Grand Challenge will be the thematic focal point for curricular and co-curricular programming across all participating Alliance campuses. There will be one proposal per campus, submitted by the campus’ Alliance Liaison. The Grand Challenge topic is Challenging Borders.
Grand Challenge Call for Proposals    Grand Challenge Proposal Summary Form

Crossroads Programs For GLCA Faculty

Themed Courses – Through collaborative development of shared course materials (i.e., with faculty collaborators from Alliance institutions) and by offering shared courses with international dimensions, faculty members will engage their students in interdisciplinary and international topics. Proposals to offer a Themed Course are developed by faculty teams and are submitted through the Alliance Liaison from one of the participating campuses.
Themed Courses Call for Proposals

New Directions in Global Scholarship – This program supports GLCA faculty members wishing to develop a new area of scholarly expertise that extends the global reach of current research or teaching. Recipients must seek out collaborators from Alliance institutions with expertise in the subject. Proposals in this program are developed by two or more faculty members and are submitted through the Alliance Liaison from one of the participating GLCA campuses.
New Directions Call for Proposals    New Directions Proposal Summary Form

Summary of Additional Crossroads Programs

Shared languages – The Shared Languages program will expand and deepen foreign language curricula by designing and implementing consortially-based collaborative courses and programs of study. Over the four years of the initiative, courses will be developed for at least one commonly taught language that is experiencing enrollment challenges and two lesser-taught languages with wide appeal within the Alliance. Participation will be determined by interest. Shared Languages is being directed by Gabriele Dillmann (

Mellon Fellows – A total of about 30 Fellows will be appointed from GLCA colleges from among faculty who have had very successful experience in international programs (course collaborations, workshops/programs, etc.) and are recognized by their faculty peers as engaged leaders and reliable colleagues. The Fellows will work across the consortium and be resources to institutions and individual faculty for globalizing courses and the curriculum. Participation is through invitation.

As noted above, while each GLCA college can decide which of the programs speak most directly to the interests on its own campus, by design the Global Crossroads initiative emphasizes the potential for connections between the programs to create more pronounced and coherent international dimensions of a liberal arts education. For example, participation in a Grand Challenge could be part of a campus’ International Innovation Fund planning. It would be quite natural to engage in a Grand Challenge topic through a collection of Themed Courses that touch on different dimensions of the topic. Exploration of a Grand Challenge topic could be supplemented through a faculty proposal to New Directions in Global Scholarship.

Global Crossroads Leadership

GLCA Program Officer – Simon Gray ( manages Alliance programming, including the Global Crossroads initiative.

Alliance Liaisons – Each Alliance campus has an Alliance Liaison appointed by the institution’s president. The Liaison has responsibility for advocacy of Alliance programs, communication with campus stakeholders, and oversight of the campus’ engagement with Alliance programs.

Crossroads Programs – As described in the Calls for Proposals, some Crossroads programs have their own campus leadership. Names will be shared as institutions indicate they are participating in the program and leaders are identified.


The Global Liberal Arts Alliance
535 West William Suite 301
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Voice: +1.734.661.2350
Facsimile: +1.734.661.2349

Map & Directions

Great Lakes Colleges Association

Strengthening Education in the Tradition of the Liberal Arts

The Great Lakes Colleges Association
535 West William. Suite 301
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103

+1.734.661.2350 (voice)
+1.734.661.2349 (fax)