Global Citizenship Seminars for Faculty & Administrators
Colleges and universities are vital institutions for addressing political, social, and economic concerns, be they at a local, national, or global level. While embedded in their communities, they contribute substantially to a nation’s competitiveness and operate within an increasingly international environment that links people and institutions together across borders. Colleges and universities are arguably the most resilient and the most sustainable institutions not only for advancing modernization and prosperity but also for ensuring the foundation and continuance of civil society. As such, they are gateways into a future that is in our own hands.
However, globalization poses new educational challenges. We no longer live “unavoidably side by side”, as Immanuel Kant wrote over two hundred years ago because in many ways the world of discrete national communities is dissolving. “Since Kant, our mutual interconnectedness and vulnerability have grown in ways he could not have imagined. We (…) live in a world of what I like to call ‘overlapping communities of fate’ where the trajectories of all countries are deeply enmeshed with each other. In our world, (…) the very nature of everyday living – of wars and money and beliefs, as well as of trade, communication and finance, not to speak of the earth’s environment, connects us all in multiple ways with increasing intensity. The word for this story is ‘globalization’.” (David Held, Globalization: the dangers and the answers, in: Open Democracy, http://www.opendemocracy.net/)
Assuming that this is an accurate description, what is the role of colleges and universities in preparing their students to live in these overlapping communities of fate, and in what ways do they incorporate an awareness of globalization into their curricula? Do we understand which knowledge, skills, and values are needed to enable students to deal with the complex realities of a world that is becoming more porous, more transnational, more tuned to the same economic, social, and informational frequency? – which in many respects means more Americanized?
There is a growing consensus, both within the academic community and outside, that the current (political, economic) approaches to meeting human needs are unsustainable. Issues like global warming, the depletion of natural resources, access to clean water, the decline of biodiversity, or HIV/AIDS are threatening the very core of survival on this planet. Institutions of higher education, obliged by their missions to prepare their students for life in the twenty-first century, cannot overlook these issues. They must address the question of how to foster a society that allows all people, today and in the future, to be healthy, to have their basic needs met, and to have fair and equitable access to the world’s resources. Universities and colleges that educate most of the people who develop and manage society’s public and corporate institutions have a profound responsibility to use their accumulated (intellectual, technological) expertise in order to achieve a sustainable future.
In 1996, the American Council on International Intercultural Education (ACIIE) and The Stanley Foundation published the first of three reports on community college global education (“The Airlie Reports”). This first report, entitled “Educating for the Global Community: A Framework for Community Colleges”, defines the term “global competency” as follows: “Global competency exists when a learner is able to understand the interconnectedness of peoples and systems, to have a general knowledge of history and world events, to accept and cope with the existence of different cultural values and attitudes and, indeed, to celebrate this richness and diversity” (http://www.stanleyfoundation.org/publications/archive/CC2.pdf – the report attached includes a list of fifty eight “global competencies”).
The goal of our seminars for faculty and administrators is to explore the factors that may either support or restrain a comprehensive approach to global education within colleges and universities and to jointly develop strategies for those teaching within higher education systems on how they can incorporate a more comprehensive approach to global education.
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