PREPARING STUDENTS TO work in a global economy is no small feat, but it is a skill employers are requesting. According to "Raising the Bar," a 2009 survey released by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, 67 percent of employers believe colleges should place an emphasis on providing students "the ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions," and 57 percent want students to have a better understanding of cultural diversity.
"Many employers tell us that they are looking for people who are familiar with all parts of the world," confirms Massachusetts Bay Community College President Carole M. Berotte Joseph. "You might be sitting here in Massachusetts but working with people in India and Russia."
Community colleges are tackling the problem head on. Extended travel through study abroad programs can be challenging to the nontraditional students composing the largest part of a community college population. Another solution is to bring foreign students to them. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 800 member institutions are registered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to accept international students.
Producing globally aware students has to be a campuswide effort. "As we hire new faculty, we talk to them about the goal of diversifying and internationalizing the curriculum," says Joseph.
All students can benefit from exposure to different cultures, not just those planning a career with an international firm. "For instance a nursing student will deal with people from all walks of life," says Joseph, citing research that shows students who study abroad have better GPAs than the general student population, the tendency of language acquisition to expand critical thinking, and the motivational effect foreign travel has on the desire to learn.
International students also bring diversity to campus and a different point of view to classroom …