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Prague Inauguration Expands International Engagement

NC State advanced its goal of enhancing global engagement for students, faculty, and staff with the official opening of the expanded NC State European Center in Prague. What began as study abroad programs offered under the College of Design has developed into the NC State gateway to Europe for broadening international networks and experiences.

Starting in 1991, the College of Design began offering summer study abroad programs in Prague, which expanded to a year-round program under then-Dean Marvin Malecha’s leadership in 2005. On July 1, 2017, management officially shifted from the College of Design to the Office of Global Engagement, and this August the center moved to larger and more functional facilities in the city-center of Prague. The European Center in Prague (NC State Prague for short) is NC State’s only permanent overseas facility.

NC State Prague faculty, staff, and current study abroad students welcomed Chancellor Randy Woodson and other NC State faculty and leadership to the capital of the Czech Republic on October 18 to mark the official inauguration of the NC State European Center in Prague. During the grand opening ceremony, Chancellor Woodson and attendees learned more about the unique interdisciplinary atmosphere of NC State Prague and heard from Director Peter Kjaer about the new expanded vision for the center.

“This historic event marks an evolution of NC State’s international role,” said Chancellor Woodson. “The NC State European Center in Prague is NC State’s portal to Europe, to the benefit of students, faculty, researchers, and society at large.”

During the inauguration visit, Chancellor Woodson had the opportunity to interact and learn about the experiences of students currently studying abroad in Prague. The new expansion of the NC State Prague facility coincides with NC State’s vision to increase the international engagement of its student body.

Nearly 200 NC State students study abroad in Prague each year. With the larger facility and the transition to the Office of Global Engagement, NC State Prague will be better positioned to serve more students who are interested in broadening their international footprint. 

Assistant Director Sean Addley has served as the primary study abroad adviser for students going to Prague for nearly five years. “Prague is an ideal location for NC State to have a permanent presence,” said Addley. “With its location in the heart of Europe, along with a rich history and culture, we believe students across NC State’s colleges can benefit from NC State Prague.”

With the elevation of Prague serving the whole university, an Associate Director position, based in Raleigh, was added to focus on new program development and enhancing connections with NC State faculty and students. Associate Director Megan Winzeler is excited for the new direction of NC State Prague. Winzeler says, “we have a dedicated and dynamic team that is working alongside faculty and partner universities in Prague to develop innovative programs that will take NC State’s global engagement to the next level.”

Although traditionally the center has focused on providing programs for study abroad students, the reorganization and expansion also allows for NC State faculty to have increased access to these facilities’ resources for international symposiums, seminars, and other learning opportunities. A key strategy for expanding NC State Prague’s reach to faculty is enhancing partnerships with major universities in Prague.

During the inauguration program, Chancellor Woodson signed agreements to formalize and expand relationships with three universities in Prague: Charles University, Czech Technical University, and Czech University of Life Sciences. These strategic partnerships aim to not only open the door for NC State students to engage with other cultures through student exchange programs, but to promote global collaboration through international research and faculty exchange.

NC State has global connections with more than 130 institutions around the world and research activity in more than 90 countries on all 7 continents. Developing partnerships with these three universities in Prague will give NC State faculty the opportunity for enhanced international research initiatives with both the Czech universities as well as the greater European academic community. Examples of how faculty can get involved with partner institutions in Prague include co-teaching, facilitating symposia, or joint publications, to name a few.

“The inauguration of NC State’s European Center in Prague last week was an exciting opportunity to elevate it to a university-level center,” said Senior Vice Provost for Global Engagement Bailian Li. “With over 12 years of history from the College of Design as a study abroad site, NC State Prague now serves all NC State students and supports more faculty exchange and research with partners in Europe. With the expanded mission, NC State Prague serves as a hub for NC State to develop close collaboration with partner universities in Prague and surrounding countries in Europe.”

Under the expansion, Kjaer will continue to direct NC State Prague with several professional staff based in Prague, along with nearly 20 European faculty who teach courses every semester. Winzeler and Addley will remain on NC State’s campus in Raleigh to develop new programs and to serve as the first point of contact for students considering studying at NC State Prague.

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