For its entire history – even before its official inception – the Edwards College has had an eye on the global stage. Faculty have conducted scholarly research, led study abroad excursions, and collaborated with international students in locations ranging from Afghanistan to South Africa to China to Trinidad. Even when the CCU student population hovered around 4,000, select programs were finding ways to connect international people and cultures to form scholarly, mutually educational relationships.
Today the Edwards College has adopted a more intentional, comprehensive, and multi-faceted approach to ensuring that faculty and students build an active and engaged global perspective. Dean Claudia Bornholdt has formalized her intention of raising the college’s collective vision to a global scope with new initiatives and a catchy tagline: Learn Local, Go Global.
The phrase originated from Bornholdt’s impression with faculty scholarship when she first arrived at CCU in 2019.
“Here we are, this very local/regional public institution, and when I came as dean, I noticed that there’s so much world-class scholarship happening and so many global engagements already,” said Bornholdt. “We’re bringing students on study abroad trips, we’re bringing
Fulbright faculty here, and we’re sending out faculty and students on Fulbrights around the world. It struck me that CCU is a local gem, a regional institution with a global reach. The impetus was here, but nobody had articulated it. It was something I could easily build on.”
Bornholdt has taken that impression and run with it, seeking to standardize global engagement for, ideally, every Edwards student.
“My vision involves sending more students abroad, by finding ways to increase the numbers of students who can enjoy this very affordable education here and have opportunities to go out into the world,” said Bornholdt.
"It’s about sending people physically into the world, but also having a global mindset and more open mind, embracing different cultures and traditions.”
– Dean Claudia Bornholdt
Curriculum and steering committees are also key elements in Bornholdt’s implementation of the Learn Local, Go Global motto. The college added five minors in 2019 and 2020, essentially dividing the former global studies minor into study areas that reflect specific regions and cultures around the world, including African and African Diaspora studies, Middle Eastern studies, and Asian studies. The latter, in particular, is growing quickly, largely through the work of Xinyi Tan, assistant professor of Chinese.
“Within one semester, there were 14 students in the minor,” said Bornholdt. “That’s rapid growth, and it shows how much interest there is.”
The college has also instituted a Global Engagement Committee, with representation from every department, to ensure that a broader perspective permeates all corners of faculty and student scholarship and activities.
“It’s about sending people physically into the world, but also having a global mindset and more open mind, embracing different cultures and traditions,” said Bornholdt.
The “Learn Local” half of the equation also involves engaging Edwards faculty and students with local communities. Bornholdt pointed to the creation of the Teal Alley public mural in Conway; the creation of public art boxes scheduled for installation on campus and in Conway and Georgetown in Fall 2021; and the Myrtle Beach theatre, scheduled to open in 2022-23, as evidence that the Edwards College is dedicated to building a fully integrated relationship with local audiences.
The refreshed focus is also about empowerment and the recognition that the world-class work of Edwards' faculty and students should be acknowledged by a broader audience.
“We need to let the public know that we’re doing the same, and even more exciting, work than universities with much higher profiles than CCU,” said Bornholdt. “We’re not a research 1 institution; we’re not a flagship institution; we’re a little bit off the beaten path; we’re not in a big urban area, but we are doing all these things an impactful university ought to be doing. That’s what makes us special.”