International Affairs History

International studies have been a fixture at the Mandel School for decades. Even during the early years, faculty and students were collaborating with professors in far-away-places and discussing how social work practices were being managed around the world.

Over the years, Mandel School faculty have helped establish a comprehensive program that focuses on student exchange, travel and service work. In addition, study abroad has taken students to five different continents and dozens of tiny villages. It is in these places that students have come to appreciate our quest for global connectedness, service and sense of purpose.

The Office of International Affairs

The Office of International Affairs at the Mandel School was established in 1999 to coordinate activities at the Mandel School for international students, visiting scholars, lectureships, and colloquiums. Led by Director of International Affairs Kimberly McFarlin, the office serves as a focal point for all international students – both Masters and PhD – working closely with admissions and university personnel to coordinate services. It also advises members of LINK, an internationally-focused Mandel School student group.

CONTACT: Kimberly M. McFarlin, MSSA, MNO, LISW, Director of International Affairs

View: Timeline of international social work at the Mandel School 

The Office of International Education and Study Abroad

The Office of International Education at the Mandel School was established in 2007 to coordinate all international education courses at the Mandel School. Several study abroad trips and courses have been offered since spring 2004. Over the years, students who participate in the program represent a variety of disciplines, both graduate and undergraduate. These international opportunities are designed to enable participants to experience a new culture, to see comparative social service systems and gain new insights into the needs of people in the U.S. and abroad. Studies have shown that students who are immersed in short-term travel programs are more globally engaged. Many have rated their experience as the most significant part of their college years.

Mandel School courses feature travel over winter, spring and summer breaks. Over the years, the Mandel School has offered trips to Bangladesh, China, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, India, Israel, Kenya, Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine. For more information, please contact International Education Programs Director Dr. David B. Miller, or Assistant Director Valerie Rambin.


Case DRIVE (the Dominican Republic Initiative for Volunteer Experiences) is a collaboration of students and faculty from Case Western University. It was established in 2004 and represents the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Engineering, Medicine, Nursing and Social Work. Case DRIVE provided students from Case Western Reserve with rich international service opportunities in the Dominican Republic.The program enabled them to develop skills in global citizenship while addressing community-identified needs that benefit non-profit organizations in that region. Students had an opportunity to visit and work closely with community-based organizations, such as clinics, hospitals, and other organizations in the Dominican Republic. The purpose of Case DRIVE was to learn about the Dominican Republic and its population, policies, and service delivery system.

Faulty member teaching to classroom

Visiting Scholars

Mandel School faculty often invite international scholars to come to the Mandel School for as long as a year, semester, or one or two months. The purpose of these visits is to conduct research and engage in teaching, or to be a guest lecturer in a particular area of expertise. They also share their country’s social services system through colloquiums offered to all Mandel School students, faculty and staff. Prior to their arrival, several steps must be taken to facilitate the logistics of their arrival. Collaboration with the university human resources department involves acquiring the appropriate VISA, coordinating faculty activities, obtaining a university ID, library access and more.

We often have international leaders that visit the Mandel School for special lectures or classroom visits. For more information, please contact Valerie Rambin, Assistant Director of International Education Programs.

Working with International Students

International students at the Mandel School make up a large part of our student population. This involves collaborating with the admissions office and assisting newly enrolled students. We work hard to connect them with current Mandel School students from their own countries or alumni, where appropriate. Other responsibilities include:

  1. Conducting special orientation for international students. This involves meeting the director of international student services, the Mandel School dean, the associate dean, library staff, alumni, second-year international students, and LINK members. The orientation covers a wide range of issues critical to new international students, such as visa requirements for travel, the culture of U.S. academic institutions, expectations, and challenges. This is the starting point to get students acclimated to American life and learning in a new culture. Students are often matched with alumni mentors or second-year students.

  2. Providing opportunities for social gatherings. Early in the semester, activities are planned to ease their adjustment and build relationships with LINK members and second-year students.

  3. Ongoing support, guidance, and mentorship. Help is provided to all students throughout their time of study at the Mandel School.

  4. English discussion groups. The key to an international student’s success is the ability to communicate well in English. For several years, Mandel School staff has arranged for a two-hour weekly English discussion group. The group meets during the fall semester and sometimes in the spring. The group is facilitated by an alumna who had experience teaching English abroad as a second language. Students of both masters and PhD programs are encouraged to participate. Currently, we are in discussion with Case office of student services to further this effort with

  5. additional opportunities for students to enhance their English. This new effort is offered university wide to graduate students.

LINK ( Local International Konnections)

LINK is a student group at the Mandel School that facilitates mutual understanding and sharing of information on cultural practices, philosophies, and ideologies throughout the world. It enacts the values and practices of the social work profession and also provides:

  1. acculturation, support, mentoring, and positive experiences for international students at the Mandel School, in Cleveland and the U.S.

  2. excellence in local and international academic activities and exchanges of information among students, staff, faculty, and international visiting scholars at the Mandel School

  3. opportunities for sharing and learning about diverse experiences, personal and professional development, and student leadership development

LINK activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Welcoming incoming international students

  • Monthly meetings

  • International dinner (fall semester)

  • Volunteer opportunities

  • International Silent Auction (spring semester)

  • Sponsoring guest speakers, colloquiums, and discussions on international issues and subjects

LINK Advisor: Kimberly M. McFarlin, MSSA, MNO, LISW, Director of International Affairs