New summer programs attract international students to Notre Dame

Author: Ted Fox and Jonathan Noble

iLED program iLED program

Now that both the fall semester and football season are in full swing, summer is fast becoming a distant memory at the University of Notre Dame.

However, for the faculty and students who recently participated in three new international summer programs held on campus, that memory is not likely to fade so quickly.

“The success of these programs in their first year shows that Notre Dame can be a very attractive destination for highly talented and academically accomplished students from around the world during the summer months,” says Nick Entrikin, vice president and associate provost for internationalization.

One of the programs, iLED (International Leadership, Enrichment and Development), is designed specifically for high school students; iSURE (International Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) and iSAWT (International Summer: America and the World Today) are open to college undergraduates.

During this inaugural summer, the three programs hosted 42 students from China, Japan, Australia, Canada and Taiwan, some of whom were U.S. citizens who had not previously visited the United States.

“By building partnerships with leading high schools and universities in Asia and other parts of the world, these programs are helping to enhance Notre Dame’s global visibility and reputation,” says Jonathan Noble, assistant provost for internationalization and director of the Notre Dame Asia Office in Beijing.

The driving force behind the initiative is Notre Dame International. Under Entrikin’s direction, it serves as the central office for the administration of study abroad programs as well as Notre Dame’s international research institutes, student services and gateway facilities, such as the Asia Office.

“Our goal is to create a vibrant range of programs to promote intellectual, social and cultural exchange between students and faculty from Notre Dame and outstanding students and scholars from throughout the world,” Entrikin says. “ILED, iSURE and iSAWT represent an important new dimension of that effort.”

ILED allows exceptional high schoolers to explore a range of academic disciplines through a two-week curriculum jointly delivered by Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, Mendoza College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Science and School of Architecture. Students attend lectures by distinguished professors, contribute to collaborative projects, take part in leadership workshops and visit local businesses and community organizations.

Weiyi Zhao, a student from Nanjing Foreign Language School in China with a passion for poetry, was a member of the first cohort of iLED participants.

“I was so excited to find that iLED provided not only lectures and seminars, but also hands-on learning and collaborative projects where I could initiate discussions with peers from strong scientific/engineering backgrounds and have them teach me how to approach the world from a different perspective,” Zhao says.

While iLED offers a broad, interdisciplinary structure, iSURE provides college undergraduates with a directed research experience. This year, 12 students from Tsinghua University in Beijing worked with faculty advisers and graduate student mentors from the departments of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.

Even now that the summer is over, several of the Tsinghua students are still collaborating with their Notre Dame research group on a conference presentation or journal article, suggesting the academic strength of those who enrolled. In fact, faculty who were involved in the program hope to recruit some of the iSURE alumni to graduate school at Notre Dame.

With iSAWT, Notre Dame International has created a third study option, one centered on cultural immersion in U.S. life, especially in the Midwest.

“This program focuses on contemporary issues to familiarize students with the current environment in America,” Noble says, “helping them learn to communicate effectively with Americans about topics and values here.”

The first iSAWT class, all from Keio University in Japan, spent 10 days at Notre Dame and four in Chicago. In addition to the faculty who taught and administered the program, two Notre Dame students majoring in Japanese, Brandon Moore and Margaret Pickard, joined the group for the entire two-week program.

Contact: Jonathan Noble, assistant provost for internationalization,