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STAIR has students taking big steps

  • Mark Schaub (back row, left), Piotr Stanek, Cracow University of Economics (front row, left), and Tamas Mihalydeak, University of Debrecen (far right), are pictured with visiting students from Poland and Hungary.

Posted on November 10, 2009

By participating in the Studies in Trans-Atlantic International Relations (STAIR) Project, students at Grand Valley and two European universities can earn dual degrees.

Grand Valley has six students studying at the University of Debrecen in Hungary this semester; and the university is hosting six Hungarian and three Polish students. The STAIR Project started last December as an agreement among the International Relations Program and the Padnos International Center at Grand Valley State University, Cracow University of Economics in Poland and the University of Debrecen in Hungary.

The agreement creates a dual-degree program for international relations students. Co-directors Mark Schaub, executive director of the Padnos International Center, and Polly Diven, International Relations program coordinator, said Both groups of students will gain a focused study in international relations.

Funded by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the STAIR project allows a total of 24 GVSU students and 24 international students to participate in the program over four years.  Grand Valley students interested in participating in the project need not worry about financial obstacles.

"Grand Valley students receive $12,000 in FIPSE awards through GVSU," said Schaub. "There are no cost hurdles involved and most students will come out ahead financially."

 "The STAIR Project is a really great opportunity for students in the development of their future careers," said Diven, professor of political science. "It is a great area for students to think about in terms of earning a dual-degree and gaining more expertise and networking opportunities."

International relations students will also benefit from a faculty exchange from the partner universities as well, allowing for further discussion and experience in the field.
"Our students have been extremely happy about their experience with the American system," said Piotr Stanek, a representative from the International Economics Department from Cracow University of Economics. "Students benefit from this exchange because our higher education systems are not very similar."

Grand Valley is among only 30 universities nationwide who have received funding for similar programs. For more information about the STAIR Project, visit the Padnos International Center Web site at 


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