What in the world is the QEP?

Phrases like “global citizenship,” “student success” and “quality enhancement” are often thrown around boardrooms when discussing the future of education. However, this kind of jargon isn’t exactly relatable for students who are the target of such talk.

USF’s new Global Citizens Project was unveiled as this year’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The plan was revealed near the end of the university’s reaffirmation of accreditation process, and is supposed to be just that: a plan for enhancing the quality of the university for students. 

“Whatever you do as an individual, wherever you live, has an impact that can be felt,” said Karla Davis-Salazar, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies. “We really want students to understand those connections.”

The QEP, which has a budget of $5 million, is scheduled to pan out over eight years, with several new opportunities for students.

A QEP is a required component of the reaffirmation of a university. It is designed to ensure that universities are focusing on enhancing student learning, though schools are allowed to choose in what way that enhancement will take place.

Every university gets to decide what it believes to be an essential enhancement that will take place on campus. Davis-Salazar said USF chose the Global Citizens Project because it is invested in students becoming global citizens, per the university’s strategic plan.

“It’s about creating a plan; and that’s what we did,” Davis-Salazar said. “We selected the Global Citizens Project … and this is obviously something we think is very important for our students to have the knowledge of a global citizen. So we have developed a five year plan focused on this.”

The executive summary of the QEP describes a “global citizen” as one who is globally aware, globally responsible, and in global participation. 

With the global nature of today’s society, Davis-Salazar said global citizenship is required for students to be able to navigate the interconnected world we live in, and they need to be able to communicate effectively with others who are different. That, she said, is the point of the

“Essentially, we have three strategies — three areas that we’re focusing on to provide students with these opportunities,” she said. “One is the creation of the Global Citizen Awards.”

The award is a two-tiered award program that offers students a number of rewards for beginning their journeys toward becoming global citizens. The first level is the Global Citizen Award and the upper level is the Global Citizen Scholar Award.

Davis-Salazar said students would earn these awards through activities such as studying foreign languages, studying abroad, community service and globally engaged undergrad research. Additionally, students with these awards will be eligible to apply for an additional study abroad scholarship.

When a student completes the lower level, they become eligible for the upper level, which is similar but more intensive. The award is still in development, but will be put into place in the fall, and there will be no limit to the number of students who can receive the award.

The second strategy to making students global citizens is certifying select courses as “global FKLs.” 

“Here we want to provide students with the introduction to this idea of being global,” Davis-Salazar said. “We’ll do that through (FKL courses) by ‘globalizing’ as many of the courses in our general education curriculum.”

These will be courses already required at USF, but they will include “more global content, including Global Citizens assignments,” according to the university’s website. That way, she said, no matter what FKLs students take, they’ll be getting an introduction to the notion of global citizenship.

FKL Capstone and Writing Intensive courses are also going to get a global makeover. These courses will include the same themes and kinds of global content as other FKLs, but will be “more advanced,” and count toward the Global Citizen Award requirements.

The final strategy in implementing the Global Citizens Project involves degree programs.

“(We will be) inviting departments to globalize their majors (and) their degree programs,” Davis-Salazar said. “Here, we really want departments and faculty to think about the courses that they require for their major and the other kinds of experiences that they have as part of the students’ development and understanding of that particular discipline.”

These changes may include revising the required courses for the major, as well as study abroad and undergraduate research, she said.

Many of the changes implemented in the degree programs will enable students to fulfill certain requirements of the Global Citizen Award. In this way, the project aims to award students for becoming global citizens.

Come next year, Davis-Salazar said there will be an office opened specifically for maintaining the quality of the project. The office will be open to students who are interested in the award and recipients thereof.

President Judy Genshaft released a video earlier this week in which she said USF received a “clean bill of health” from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which is the accrediting body for many schools, due in part to the new QEP.

“The preliminary assessment of the accreditation team’s findings could not have been better,” Genshaft said. “That is due to the hard work of USF’s reaccreditation team, as well as the entire campus community.”

Genshaft also noted that it is rare for a university as large and complex as USF to satisfy all 96 reaccreditation criteria without any recommendations.

SACSCOC is scheduled to release a full report on its evaluation, as well as a vote on the final decision for accreditation, at a board meeting in December.