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August 21, 2013

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By: V. Renee Russell
Global Education Office
(804) 828-3636

RICHMOND, Va. (Aug. 21, 2013)—Weeks before most VCU students returned to campus for the start of the fall semester, the corner of West Grace and South Shafer streets was already abuzz as students and their families unloaded belongings in preparation for the new school year. 

The students were part of the first class of 54 sophomores in the new  global education living-learning community, and they were eager to get a look at their new rooms in the new West Grace Street Student Housing-North.

“Today’s increasingly globalized and interconnected world means that tomorrow’s graduate in any field needs a new set of skills,” said R. McKenna Brown, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Education Office at VCU. “This program gives students an understanding of the causes of globalization and its impact on communities everywhere and fosters intercultural learning through sustained interactions with international students and community members in Richmond.”  

VCU’s Global Education Office oversees Globe, and students in the program will be involved in a globally themed curriculum that leads to a certificate of global education, co-curricular activities in the residence hall and beyond, and experiential learning through engagement in global communities on campus, in the city of Richmond and abroad.

“Globe is a unique program, and one that will transform our students into globally minded citizens,” said Jill Blondin, Ph.D., director of VCU Globe. “We’ve seen the life-changing impact that exposure to different cultures can have on students when they go abroad. Our mission is to harness that same capacity for positive impact here on campus through coursework, co-curricular activities, engagement with international students and a vibrant residence experience.”

The students, who are pursuing degrees in nearly 20 fields of study representing all VCU schools and colleges, will take six semesters of courses together through Globe. This fall, students will take UNIV 200, a writing and rhetoric course, and GLED 201, a global education seminar. Blondin said both courses will help students gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of globalization, intercultural communication and their roles as culture brokers.

“The students will have a host of opportunities to practice what they’ve learned in those and additional Globe courses through both structured and everyday interactions with students from all over the world,” Blondin said.

The first group of Globe students occupies the first two floors of the new residence hall, with international and exchange students residing on the third and fourth floors. As the program grows, additional space will open for junior and senior students.

The West Grace Student Housing-North residence hall includes 119 apartment-style rooms with washers, dryers and kitchens; 18 study and common lounges; two courtyards; and more than 6,000 square feet of program classroom, meeting and office space on the first floor.

The day before classes began, VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and other university leaders toured the facility, met with staff members and student residents and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building.  

“The Globe program is a real game-changer by focusing on student success at all levels,” Rao said. “Globe reflects VCU’s connection to the world, which is a great strength of the university, and is symbolic of our commitment to continue to expand relationships around the world that benefit people and help us become more connected to one another.”

The new residence hall joins the West Grace Student Housing-South residence hall, which opened across the street a year ago and houses VCU ASPiRE. These buildings, along with the Honors College, located on Grace and Laurel, form the Grace Street Village.

Students who will be sophomores in the 2014-2015 academic year may apply to participate in the Globe program until Nov. 8 (priority deadline) and Jan. 3 (final deadline). Visit the Globe website at . Those with additional questions may call (804) 828-7860 or send emails to

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