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International Programs, Faculty Professional Development, Renewable Energy, Curriculum And Instruction
Calls for increased international competency in U.S. college graduates and the global nature of the renewable energy industry require an exploration of how to incorporate a global perspective in STEM curricula, and how to best develop faculty providing them with global knowledge and skills necessary to update and improve existing teaching practices. To expand awareness of the global renewable energy sector, a cohort of renewable energy educators from across the United States participated in two international learning exchanges to Australia/New Zealand and Germany/Denmark. The exchanges provided opportunities for the participants to meet with technical educators, visit teaching labs, review industry partnerships, talk with policy makers and government representatives, and to share knowledge and best teaching practices. Three years after the initial international exchange, participant data was collected to measure the extended impact of the experience and the perceived value of various learning activities. The results show that the exchanges expanded participant’s knowledge of renewable energy technologies and issues both in the U.S. and abroad, and also influenced teaching curriculum and instruction, and academic community engagement. This study serves as a model program for providing STEM faculty with rich international experience. The findings in this manuscript highlight the key components to building a successful international professional development program, and illustrate the type of impacts that can result from these activities. The lessons learned are meaningful to other institutions or organizations planning similar international activities in a variety of disciplines.