April 22, 2020

Two pioneers of intercultural learning chosen for 2020 CILMAR Vision Award

The Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research (CILMAR) has chosen the 2020 recipients of its prestigious Vision Award. The winners are Stewart Chang Alexander, faculty scholar and associate professor of public health in the College of Health and Human Sciences, and Renee Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center, Division of Diversity and Inclusion.

“The vision of CILMAR is an inclusive and interculturally proficient Purdue community that moves the world forward," says CILMAR director Kris Acheson-Clair. "Our staff strives to support intercultural development, global identity and inclusive practices, particularly through structural changes that embed intercultural learning and assessment across campus. Each year as we celebrate the history of our center, we pause to honor visionaries who, even before CILMAR existed, have been laying the foundation for our work. These Boilermakers not only share our vision, they embody it in all that they do.”

Stewart Chang Alexander Stewart Chang Alexander
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According to his nominators, Chang Alexander was chosen for his support of CILMAR’s vision in a variety of areas, including pedagogy and research, study abroad and on-campus initiatives. His mentorship efforts support both students and colleagues, and the impact of his work is felt far beyond his own discipline because of his innovative leadership in designing series of intercultural learning modules meant to be embedded in both study abroad and on-campus versions of Health and Human Sciences courses.

Chang Alexander was one of the first faculty members on campus to train on and implement intercultural assessments such as the Intercultural Development Inventory. Also, for many years he has led and co-led multiple short-term study abroad programs that are demonstrably effective in achieving learning outcomes. Like many past CILMAR Vision Award recipients, Chang Alexander was envisioning an interculturally competent and inclusive Purdue community in his teaching, research, and service activities long before the founding of CILMAR in 2016.

Renee Thomas Renee Thomas
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Thomas is honored for her long history of work at Purdue and beyond to foster inclusivity and positive intercultural relations. Among her many innovations as director of the Black Cultural Center that support CILMAR’s mission of structurally embedded intercultural learning are formal curricula associated with various BCC programs, such as the annual educational research tour by BCC’s Performing Arts Ensembles, which presents a tangible opportunity for performance ethnography in order to bridge the gap between scholarly activity and teaching and learning.

One of her nominators noted her leadership in creating the first domestic study away program at Purdue that intentionally places international, domestic majority, and domestic underrepresented minority students in conversation with each other about race and history. CILMAR has collaborated on multiple projects with the Black Cultural Center because of Thomas’s heart for partnering across disciplinary and cultural divides. CILMAR recognizes Thomas for her commitment to the work of equity, diversity, and inclusion and the positive impact she has had on Purdue’s climate, student success, and achievement of core intercultural knowledge and competence learning outcomes.

Normally awarded at a spring International Programs Celebration event, the CILMAR Vision Award comes with a commemorative crystal globe and a monetary award.

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