Global Education Challenges and Opportunities: Students Are Not Isolated from World Events

Article excerpt

GLOBAL EDUCATION HAS been a focus in American higher education for several years. Recently, we have seen an increase in conferences, speeches, and papers encouraging us to think globally and prepare our students for a world where success may be dictated by one's ability to navigate varying cultures, languages, and practices.

Students need to learn that they are interconnected globally.

There are, of course, many interpretations and definitions of what constitutes a "global education." Some would have us believe that by hosting students from other countries on our home campuses we are providing a global education. Others believe that sending students abroad achieves the goal. Several institutions operate campuses abroad to enhance their global objectives.

Although all of these are valid strategies, global education requires more. It requires that we develop a global mindset and understand that what happens in other parts of the world affects all of us. Our students need to learn that they are interconnected and cannot isolate themselves from world events.

Students today need to have the opportunity to develop competencies that will prepare them to live in a complex world that's socially, politically, and economically interdependent. They need to understand the challenges they will face as they move into positions of leadership and acquire skills that will allow them to navigate a highly networked world.

Employers tell us that today's graduates lack the knowledge and skills needed to achieve success. The recent AAC&U report entitled "College Learning for the New Global Century" revealed the following:

* Fully 63 percent of employers believe that too many recent college graduates do not have the skills they need to succeed in the global economy.

* Only 18 percent of employers rate college graduates as "very well prepared" in the area of global knowledge. More than 45 percent rate them as "not well prepared" at all in this area.

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In an era of diminishing resources and demands for accelerated learning, how do we position our institutions to meet the needs of today's students and the global demands of today's marketplace?

To meet these challenges, we must strive to:

1. Ensure that our students understand and appreciate the opportunities that our global future holds.

2. Develop institutional strategies that encourage faculty and students to prepare for a rapidly changing world.

3. Provide resources that encourage students to engage in international learning experiences and faculty to construct classes with a global emphasis.

True global learning cannot be isolated in our curricula.

Our challenge is to incorporate our local institutional values within a broader framework to prepare students for the global challenges and opportunities ahead. Not only should we provide study abroad opportunities, but we should also promote the development of international global content in ALL classes and research. …