Teaching Abroad

The Padnos International Center strongly encourages faculty to seek teaching opportunities abroad. The following information was designed to address common questions and concerns and to provide resources and ideas for teaching abroad.

Where Might I Teach?

It's all about who you know.  With the right contacts, you could probably secure a teaching position anywhere.  GVSU has partnerships or other agreements with over thirty institutions globally, and these partnerships foster an environment of reciprocity and exchange.  They would be the most promising destinations for a number of reasons.  In any case, you will be primarily responsible for making contacts and gaining an invitation from the host institution.  The Padnos International Center plays a supportive role and the PIC staff is eager to provide assistance.  We can help identify appropriate host institutions, provide names or leads for direct contacts at overseas institutions, and assist with communication with partner institutions.

In recent years, GVSU faculty taught at a number of partner institutions for both a semester and a full academic year.  The institutions include but are not limited to:

  • Cracow University of Economics (Cracow, Poland)
  • Grenoble Graduate School of Business (Grenoble, France
  • Kingston University (London, England)
  • ESSCA (Angers, France & Budapest, Hungary)

GVSU Policies and Overseas Teaching

If you are a full time faculty member and seek a temporary teaching appointment overseas, you must gain approval from your Unit Head and Dean. The policy on outside employment pertains. Obviously, arrangements to cover your teaching assignments would need to be made by your Unit Head and Dean.

Sabbatical Leaves

The ideal time for GVSU faculty to teach abroad is in conjunction with a sabbatical leave. A teaching appointment is not incompatible with research, renewal, or teaching enhancement goals for sabbatical projects. With a sabbatical, coverage of the faculty member's teaching assignments at GVSU is already taken care of, and that critical piece is therefore not an issue.

Leaves of Absence

Some faculty choose to take a leave of absence (leave without pay) for a semester or a year in order to pursue a temporary teaching appointment abroad. One concern is that since the faculty member would not be paid by GVSU for the particular time on leave, the faculty member must find an overseas teaching appointment that will pay well enough so in-country living expenses are covered (along with any costs associated with maintaining a home and possessions in Michigan).

Teaching Exchanges

Though the benefits of teaching exchanges are numerous for students, colleagues, and the involved faculty members, they are perhaps the most difficult to arrange. Your Unit Head and Dean will need to be involved at every step of the process.

If you are envisioning an actual faculty-for-faculty exchange, it is important that your corresponding faculty member from the host institution reciprocate with an appropriate teaching assignment at GVSU. Basically, you and that faculty member  are switching jobs for a term. Your exchange partner would teach the equivalent of your normal course load in your home unit, and you would fulfill corresponding teaching responsibilities in your partner's home unit. Depending on the curriculum and courses of each home unit- your unit at GVSU and your exchange partner's unit- the exchange may be clean and simple or a more complicated exchange.

The most difficult element to manage with teaching exchanges is the salary disparity between GVSU and most partner sites.  GVSU faculty, for example, earn salaries that in real terms are vastly greater than those faculty at partner institutions in Ghana, China, Mexico, or other developing countries.  Thus, the exchange must address this disparity in order to be successful.  There is no simple solution to this issue, and PIC has no budget to supplement teaching salaries.  Thus, the involvement of Unit Heads and Deans is critical - particularly if additional funds are needed for you to negotiate a successful exchange.

Your Unit Head and Dean must agree that the corresponding faculty have suitable qualifications, English language proficiency, and other appropriate skills to teach GVSU courses. Therefore, your exchange partner's CV should be reviewed and approved by your Unit Head and Dean early in negotiations for an exchange.

How Do I Proceed?
Though each overseas teaching assignment is unique, arrangements for such opportunities follow a similar pattern.

  1. Identify an appropriate host institution. Start with GVSU's partner institutions. Explore the partner institutions' websites and catalogs. Search location and curricula and identify institutions where your expertise would be welcome and your background would be compatible. The Padnos International Center can provide you with supplemental material and information on the partner institutions, and may be able to identify individuals in the GVSU community with some familiarity with a particular institution.
  2. Establish contacts/relationships with faculty/staff at overseas institution(s). Ideally, you will already have or will be able to develop a relationship with a faculty member or contact at an overseas institution that might develop into an invitation. The most productive relationships develop naturally, from a professional and/or personal connection.
  3. Involve Unit Heads/Deans.  Because you will be absent from GVSU and from your regular teaching assignment, the approval of your Unit Head and Dean will be critical at every step.
  4. Involve Padnos International Center. PIC is here to serve the campus community and to provide contacts, advice, travel resources and other assistance pertaining to your faculty exchange.  We can directly facilitate your teaching assignment with an overseas partner, depending on your needs and interests.  

Available Resources

Currently, there is no budget line in the Padnos International Center to support salary for overseas teaching assignments by GVSU faculty. However, there are Faculty/Staff Exchange Grants (available up to $2500) for GVSU faculty to develop contacts and relationships with faculty and staff at partner institutions. Please visit  PIC grants for faculty/staff  for grant applications. Faculty Development Project Grants are also available for faculty pursuing research projects abroad. Once abroad on a project supported by these grants, faculty may be in a good position to develop contacts at potential host institutions.

The PIC staff will gladly assist with research materials, curricular information, academic catalogs, contact names, and additional information about overseas institutions especially for GVSU partners.

Other Funding Sources

The Fulbright Scholar Program remains is still the gold standard for overseas teaching and research appointments. Hundreds of grants are awarded each year for semester or year-long lectureships around the world. For more information click here.

Page last modified October 24, 2014