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‘Around the World in 80 Days’ program earns national award

Innovation Award Iyonka Strawn-Valcy and Lance Askildson receive the 2017 Innovation Award in Internationalization from the Association of International Education Administrators.

Association of International Education Administrators recognizes program’s innovation

KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 8, 2017) — An education abroad program that took 11 students to four continents for a semester of study earned Kennesaw State University a 2017 Innovation Award in Internationalization from the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA). 

The award recognizing the “Around the World in 80 Days” (AW80) program was presented to Lance Askildson, Kennesaw State’s chief international officer, and Iyonka Strawn-Valcy, director of education abroad and exchanges, at AIEA’s annual conference in Washington, D. C. The two designed and administered the AW80 program, which took students to several locales in Italy, Australia, Morocco and Cuba. 

“As colleges and universities around the U.S. come to increasingly recognize the value and importance of pursuing internationalization as a distinct and intentional project, the need grows for models regarding various aspects of this work,” an AIEA press release stated. “Many international education leaders work tirelessly with passion, vision and commitment to pursue internationalization in ways to best meet institutional needs. Some of this work is not only effective, but outstanding, and worthy of emulation by others who are either new to the field or value new approaches to the work they do. The AIEA Innovation Award in Internationalization highlights exceptional programs, projects, or initiatives aimed at advancing internationalization.”

Askildson, a vice provost who also heads Kennesaw State’s Division of Global Affairs, conceived AW80 as an intensive, multi-disciplinary study. The program relied on eight faculty members who team-taught the 12 hours of general education courses students completed during the program. The courses were specially designed for each country: Science, Society and Environment in Italy; International and Global Studies in Australia; World Literature in Morocco; and International Political Economy in Cuba. The students spent 21 days in each country, with 10 of those days devoted to coursework. They spent the remainder of time in carefully selected co-curricular activities and travel coordinated and supported by education abroad staff.

In presenting the award, the AIEA recognized AW80 “especially because of its effectiveness and for the connections it establishes among the administrative and academic silos. The initiative addresses one of the main faculty concerns of administrative support and management burden while focusing on student learning.”

“All along we knew this program model would push Kennesaw State’s education abroad program to the next level,” Askildson said. “It was a tremendous undertaking requiring extensive collaboration and planning. It relied on a highly skilled team of staff and faculty committed to delivering a high-quality global learning experience for students,” Askildson said. “We are deeply honored that the AIEA recognized our efforts with an innovation award.”

The Division of Global Affairs will feature the AW80 program and participating students at its annual International Achievement Awards ceremony in April.

AIEA is the only association specifically for leaders in international higher education. Founded in 1982, AIEA is hosted at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and is composed of over 450 institutions engaged in advancing the international dimensions of higher education. For additional information, visit www.aieaworld.org.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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