UMass Lowell Global Entrepreneurship Exchange Honored

IIE award presentation Image by Steven Rosen
UMass Lowell's Ashwin Mehta, left, accepted the Institute of International Education's award for innovation in study abroad programs, on behalf of the university's Global Entrepreneurship Exchange.


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LOWELL, Mass. – What started as a pilot program in 2014 with nine UMass Lowell students visiting India over winter break to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation has grown into a nationally recognized model of international education. 

The Institute of International Education (IIE) has named UMass Lowell’s Global Entrepreneurship Exchange (GE2) program as the winner of one of this year’s IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education. 

The GE2 program, led by Manning School of Business senior lecturer Ashwin Mehta, recently received the award in the category of study abroad at the IIE’s annual Best Practices in Internationalization Conference. Mehta is a resident of Hudson, N.H.

“It’s a great recognition that wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of so many faculty and staff members, not only here in the Manning School, but across the campus. It’s also recognition that UMass Lowell is at the forefront when it comes to global engagement and entrepreneurship,” said Mehta, who added that the success of the program is also the result of the strong partnership between UMass Lowell and KLE Technological University in Hubli, India, the first institution to participate in the exchange. “They are our key collaborator in this program.”

Since the UMass Lowell program’s inception four years ago, more than 670 students from 12 countries have come together to experience multidisciplinary and multicultural immersion in entrepreneurship, complete with project-based activities and field visits to businesses in the region. Five sessions are being held in 2018 and include faculty in not only entrepreneurship, but also accounting, management and marketing.

Through the program, UMass Lowell students earn three credits as they study abroad for two weeks in India (over winter or summer break) or China (summer). They can also take part in a three-credit summer course on campus with students visiting from China, Guyana, Haiti, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. The program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students and while it is offered through the Manning School of Business, participants have included engineering, science and nursing majors, along with those in business. 

“The GE2 program is a great example of a successful short-term experiential program with reaches across academic disciplines and cultures,” said Fern McKinnon, director of UMass Lowell’s Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences. “We are proud to be able to offer the enriching exchange it provides to its participants.” 

“I never thought it would grow into something like this,” said Mehta, who, along with Assistant Prof. Michael Obal, led eight UMass Lowell students to India over winter break on the program’s 12th session. “It shows that UMass Lowell has a global footprint.” 

At the IIE conference where the award was presented, Mehta and leaders from the other award-winning campuses, which included Virginia Commonwealth University and the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, presented their programs to help higher education policymakers and officials advance their internationalization efforts. 

“We congratulate the winners of this year’s IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for their innovative work,” said IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman. “We hope these programs will not only be adapted by institutions for their own campuses, but that they will also spark new creative ideas for internationalization.” 

The IIE Heiskell Awards are named for the late Andrew Heiskell, former chairman of Time Inc., and a dedicated supporter of international education. Since they were launched 17 years ago, the awards have recognized nearly 140 programs that advance international education on the campuses of IIE’s 1,300 members. Founded in 1919, the nonprofit collaborates with corporate, government and foundation partners around the world to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.

In 2014, UMass Lowell joined the IIE’s “Generation Study Abroad” initiative, which aims to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad by 2020. The university has already nearly doubled its participation rate three years ahead of schedule, according to MacKinnon.

“Through support to our faculty in the development of international experiences, we aim to offer a diverse range of programs to suit our students’ academic, personal and professional interests,” McKinnon said. “The GE2 program highlights the university’s commitment to providing students with a transformational, experiential education.”

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.