Jane Edwards, well known for her work in international education, has been named director of International Programs. In making the announcement, William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said the appointment is one of the first steps in his efforts to increase opportunities for Harvard students to include significant international experience in their undergraduate programs. Edwards will take the reins of the department beginning July 1.
A long-time advocate of integrating international experience with undergraduate education, arguing that it is imperative to ensure that students graduate with the preparation that they need for life in a global society, Edwards is currently director of International Studies at Wesleyan University, a position she has held since 1994.
“I am delighted that Jane Edwards has agreed to work with us on furthering the international opportunities for our students,” Kirby said. “She understands how study and research outside of the United States can open students’ eyes to new ways of thinking about their world, their education, and themselves. Further, she knows well that such experience must be linked closely to students’ academic programs,” he said.
Kirby has long been an advocate for advancing study abroad opportunities for Harvard students. Even before assuming the deanship, he had been a member of the faculty committee that in spring 2002 endorsed the view that “a significant experience in a foreign country and culture is an invaluable part of a Harvard education.” As a first step in making this possible, Kirby established the Office of International Programs.
Throughout her career, Edwards has demonstrated both an engagement with international issues and a deep appreciation of the needs of college students. Prior to joining Wesleyan, she was an assistant professor at the University of Hartford. She was also director of International Education at the State University of New York, Potsdam. Those who have worked with Edwards at Wesleyan and elsewhere praise her ability to lead effectively, her collegial work with students and faculty, and her warm and lively personal style.
Edwards, who speaks several languages, has traveled extensively and has lived and worked in Buenos Aires; Wellington, New Zealand; and Paris. She completed her undergraduate education in England, where she received both a B.A. (1971) and M.A. (1975) from New Hall, Cambridge University. She was awarded a Thouron Fellowship for graduate study in the United States and completed a Ph.D. (1978) in Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania.
Well known and highly regarded in the field of international education, Edwards is active in professional associations; she is currently serving as an elected member of the Board of Directors of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Studies in International Education.