Faculty member wins 2019 award for innovation in global programming

a man and woman stand next to each other, holding an award shaped like a globe

By Rachel Berry

Martha Castaneda, a professor of foreign language education, was awarded the 2019 John E. Dolibois Faculty Award for Innovation in Global Programming.

The award is given out once each year to a professor whose leadership in a study abroad or away program exemplifies Miami University's global mindset. Faculty members nominate their colleagues, and a committee made of global initiatives staff determines the winner.

The decision committee looks for:

  • Creative, innovative, and impactful program design combining rigorous academic study with effective use of program location and resources
  • Learning objectives focused on increasing intercultural competency
  • Effective integration of the program in curriculum of the department and/or division
  • Considerations for program accessibility and diversity of participants

a woman stands and speaks at a podiumRyan Dye, director of education abroad, said there were a lot of exceptional nominations, and the committee had a hard time deciding this year.

They chose Castaneda because of the quality of her program, Culture, ELs, Research, and Writing in Belize.

Castaneda has been director of the program since 2015. Students take two courses during their time in rural Belize, one course focused on research and academic writing and one for teaching English language learners.

Belize is a small English-speaking country that is politically stable and well-developed, which Castaneda said provides students with beneficial opportunities to interact with locals. Students work in the schools, which provides education majors with international classroom experience.

“A lot of programs are first-time students going abroad, and it’s just stepping their toe in the water. [Castaneda] goes far beyond that; she drenches them,” said Cheryl Young, director of global initiatives and assistant provost.

Students on the program were interviewed for Castaneda’s nomination and said she was instrumental in organizing a program that was rigorous and immersed them in the culture.

“Dr. Castaneda pushed us to go out and experience, not just to have stories about those we considered to be different but rather to understand them,” one student said.

Castaneda said she believes in the importance of education abroad and the benefits it brings students.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I do it because I’m passionate about it, and I believe as faculty we can create experiences where we maximize the student experience.”

“Some of my best moments at Miami are doing study abroad,” Castaneda added.