CSU, Chico News

International Master’s Program in Cognitive Visualization Has First Cohort of Students Studying in Germany

Date: 12-08-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Publications and Public Affairs
Neil Schwartz, U.S. Coordinator,
International Cognitive Visualization Program

A dual master’s program among universities in the United States, France and Germany funded on both sides of the Atlantic by the European Commission and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, a program of the U.S. Department of Education, now has its first cohort of international students studying in Germany. The master’s program, International Cognitive Visualization (ICV), breaks ground in an emerging science by being the first of its kind worldwide to train multilingual students to be specialists in both cognitive visualization and international business.

The program was developed over two years through the International Graduate Research Exchange by Program Director Neil Schwartz, a psychology professor at California State University, Chico, and his partners, Professor Wolfgang Schnotz from the University of Koblenz-Landau and Professor Erica de Vries from the University of Grenoble.

Eight students, selected from applicants from around the world, are now taking courses in cognitive psychology, applied computer graphics and learning science. In addition, they will intern with an international company. As part of the program’s development, companies expressing an urgent need for such specialists were identified.

This first group of students began a month-long German-language immersion intensive in September 2011 and then moved to the University of Koblenz-Landau at the end of October to begin their coursework. In February 2012, they will move to Grenoble, France, and enter a month-long French language immersion intensive. In March, they will begin their second semester at the University of Grenoble. They will finish in July and then move to CSU, Chico to begin the fall semester in August 2012. They will finish in May 2013 with a dual degree in the same amount of time it would normally take to complete only one.

The graduates will be specialists in visualization graphics. “Visualization media and tools are everywhere,” said Schwartz. “Students, executives, lawyers, engineers, Internet venders, textbook editors and many more rely on graphs, pictures, illustrations and animations to stimulate interest, ensure comprehension, persuade and inspire—in short, to connect with the human mind.”

ICV will train specialists in understanding how these visualization and media tools work and how to evaluate them. These specialists will work alongside graphics designers, design teams and management staff to create visualization tools and solve problems in an international context.

“The best thing about the experience so far has been learning how to communicate effectively across cultures,” said Laura Evans, a 2011 graduate in psychology at CSU, Chico. She says all eight ICV students relish the chance to work and learn as a close-knit multinational group. “The ease with which our group came together as a cohesive working unit surprised us,” she said. “Although we come from such different backgrounds, educations and cultures, we fit together perfectly—not only on a social level, but also on a working level—we work extremely well together. The constant exposure to different cultures allows us the opportunity to network internationally, learn multiple languages, learn about our own cultures while simultaneously exploring others,” she said.

“This emerging discipline will provide tremendous employment potential to trained professionals in countries around the world,” said Schwartz. “I think the students entering this graduate program are going to feel like they are getting in on the ground floor of something very, very exciting.”

Students with bachelor’s degrees in psychology, instructional design, computer graphics and foreign languages are among those who may be interested in applying for this master’s program in the future.

For more information about the ICV program, call Schwartz at (530) 898-4968, e-mail him at nschwartz@csuchico.edu or go to http://www.icvprogram.net.