Our Tradition of Global Engagement

International education has been a part of the mission of The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University since the nineteenth century when Benedictine sisters and monks immigrated to the United States from Bavaria to serve the European settlers in central Minnesota. From the very first years, these Benedictine sisters and monks established schools to serve the daughters and sons of both the Europeans and the native Ojibwa.

Within decades of their arrival in central Minnesota, these Benedictine communities had expanded their mission of education to the Bahamas and Asia. In 1891 monks from Saint John's established schools in the Bahamas and by the 1920s Bahamian students began enrolling at Saint Ben's and Saint John's, a relationship that continues to flourish today. Monks from Saint John's established the Catholic University of Peking (Furen) in 1925 and sisters from Saint Benedict's Monastery arrived to set up a coordinate woman's college in 1930. In 1949, the Benedictines relocated to Taiwan, where they rebuilt Furen, and to Japan, where the sisters established a girls' school in Hokkaido. Today, some of our longest-running international partnerships are with universities in China and Japan.

By the late twentieth century, this Benedictine tradition of providing a home-base to a widely dispersed community of learners while at the same time providing a welcoming retreat for guests who are away from their own home had created a distinctively integrated approach to international education. International education at CSB/SJU thrived during the last several decades of the twentieth century with the creation of multiple faculty-led study abroad programs, a welcomed population of international students, and a strong commitment to liberal education's principles of intercultural and foreign language instruction.

Building on these Benedictine foundations, the first strategic plan of the twenty-first century, identified international education as one of three signature programs to be recognized as a campus center of excellence. The launch of our  Center for Global Education in the fall of 2010 brought this vision to a reality. In the 21st century, CSB/SJU have witnessed a flourishing of international education on our campuses, with significant enhancements to study abroad, international enrollments, faculty development, internationalizing our curriculum, and community partnerships, both locally and globally. In 2012 these achievements earned national recognition when CSB/SJU was named a winner of the Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.

As we begin our newest strategic plan this year, Strategic Directions 2020 (SD 2020) builds on this foundation to enhance and expand our broad-based and deep commitment to global engagement. The creation of our Center for Global Education recognizes the clear trajectory of international education at CSB/SJU, emerging from our Benedictine heritage, reaching new heights in the 21st century, and on-track for even greater achievements as we launch our next strategic plan.