IIE Networker - Spring 2006 - (Page 23)

Feature Paths to Global Competence Preparing American College Students to Meet the World By William I. Brustein Institutions need to matriculate globally competent students. In order to achieve global competence, American universities must develop a comprehensive and coherent curriculum that will train our students to become globally competent critical thinkers. capacity for effective communication across cultural and linguistic boundaries. How near are we to achieving the goal of global competence in higher education? The report card on the United States as it pertains to international education is far from promising: In the National Geographic-Roper (2002) poll of geographic knowledge Americans finished next to last; less than 25 percent of Americans surveyed could name four countries that acknowledge having nuclear weapons; only 3 percent of U.S. college students in four-year programs participate in education abroad each year and those who participate are disproportionately white, female, middleclass majoring in the Humanities or Social Sciences and choose European or Englishlanguage destinations; enrollment in foreign languages has fallen from 16 percent in the 1960s to less than 9 percent today; and between 1965 and 1995 the share of four-year institutions with language-degree requirements for some students fell from roughly 90 percent to 67 percent.2 If the training of globally competent graduates is accepted as one of the chief goals of our system of higher education, our curricula will have to be redesigned to ensure that outcome. Most of our institutions address the need for global competence by adding a diversity or international course(s) requirement—hardly sufficient to instill global competence in our students— or by offering degrees, minors or certificates in area or international studies. However, there are major shortcomings in the way both area and international studies are generally carried out. Area studies programs tend to be highly descriptive and too often display an apparent abhorrence towards theorizing. The curriculum frequently resembles a cafeteria-style menu: one selection or course from this shelf followed by selections from various other shelves. Somehow students are expected miraculously to pull together the disparate pieces into some coherent whole. Area studies, on the other hand, fails frequently to take advantage of opportunities to generalize from their rich contextual findings to the broader world. International studies programs (particularly when they fall under the rubric of international relations) too frequently manifest a lack of appreciation for the importance of the local and regional cultural contexts. There are few, if any, attempts at applying the theoretical approaches to the empirical context of the regions. Students too often matriculate from these programs without any competency in a foreign language or any knowledge of or any specific grounding in the culture of a society outside of the U.S. Additionally, our area and international studies programs often fail to give appropriate attention to such crucial steps as: (1) integrating relevant learning abroad opportunities into the degree, minor or certificate; (2) incorporating critical thinking skills of knowledge, comprehension, analysis, synthesis, explanation, evaluation, and extrapolation into the learning experience;3 (3) assessing or evaluating global competence as an outcome; and (4) aligning the At the risk of being labeled an alarmist, I propose that it is time to sound the alarm for “internationalized” education at U.S. institutions of higher learning. Confronted with a world that is strikingly different from what it was just a decade ago, the U.S. faces rapidly shifting economic, political, and national security realities and challenges. To respond to these changes and meet national needs it is essential that our institutions of higher education matriculate globally competent students. Without global competence our students will be illprepared for global citizenship, lacking the skills required to address our national security needs, and unable to compete successfully in the global marketplace. Global competence, as defined in the recently published National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) report, A Call to Leadership: The Presidential Role in Internationalizing the University, is the ability “not only to contribute to knowledge, but also to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate its meaning in the context of an increasingly globalized world.”1 The skills that form the foundation of global competence include the ability to work effectively in international settings; awareness of and adaptability to diverse cultures, perceptions and approaches; familiarity with the major currents of global change and the issues they raise; and the

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2006

IIE Networker - Spring 2006
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
The “Global Campus”: Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
Paths to Global Competence: Preparing American College Students to Meet the World
Globalization and Higher Education: Eight Common Perceptions from University Leaders
The International Branch Campus
Investing in Communities and Capabilities Worldwide
Institutional Leadership Internationalizing the Campus through Institutional Leadership at University of California, Davis
International Students Could Anthropology Be an Answer to Exchange Students’ Cocooning?
Study Abroad The Study Abroad Superhero Search: A Practical Approach to Marketing Study Abroad on Campus
Internationalization in the UK UCL: London’s Global University
Community Colleges The International Negotiation Modules Project: Using Computer-Assisted Simulation to Enhance Teaching and Learning Strategies in the Community College
Country Focus: Brazil Institutionalization of International Education in Brazil
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Spring 2006