A commitment to internationalization is cross-cutting at George Brown College (GBC), extending beyond its support and integration of its 4,200 international students. The 2010 extension of GBC’s international strategy, which was first introduced in 2003, expanded the strategy’s parameters beyond recruitment to sustain a comprehensive approach, centered on six pillars: 1) globalization of curriculum; 2) study/work abroad; 3) staff development; 4) academic delivery abroad; 5) global academic and employer partnerships; and 6) international student recruitment and integration.
The international strategy is closely linked to the college’s academic plan and updated every five years to deepen the focus on internationalization and adjust to the complex and evolving global education sector. Each year, five to six of GBC’s academic programs are selected for an assessment on internationalization that has seen 33 programs assessed and significantly internationalized in content and delivery. This includes the School of Design’s Institute without Boundaries, which uses a collaborative charrette, a kind of intensive planning workshop, as central to the program’s methodology; a process that brings together students and professionals from a variety of disciplines to address identified challenges.
The charrette process has been shared and emulated by academic partners of GBC: the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology in Denmark and SENAC in Brazil. Every February, the Institute without Boundaries hosts an international charrette welcoming students and faculty from Italy, Denmark, France, Ireland, and Portugal to tackle a challenge related to the Institute’s year-long research theme.
Closer to home, GBC responds to the needs of the global and local community by introducing programs to fill those gaps. Working in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, a high-immigrant area, GBC has developed the Apparel Technical Design and Sustainable Fashion Production programs (to begin in the fall 2017 academic year) to produce ethical fashion and meet the employment needs of newly arrived immigrants.
GBC has cultivated 45 active international academic and industry partnerships, chosen for their program excellence, alignment of values, mutual benefit, and delivery of exemplary student experience. In the 2015-16 academic year, 426 GBC students from 41 programs participated in international placements across 34 countries, while 183 faculty and staff participated in international professional development efforts such as curriculum mapping, faculty-led placements, and study abroad tours.