President's Update - October 7, 2004
What is Global Education?
Over the summer, I had time to review and reflect upon the self-study
work of the ACE Internationalization Lab Team. The findings and
recommendations of the team and external review group provided a
penetrating look at our progress and challenges.
This summer was also an important time for me personally — it marked
the end of my fifth year as FDU’s president and the transition into my
sixth. The anniversary naturally invited some reflection on where we
have traveled and where we are going.
As I thought of the accomplishments and challenges of the past 60
months, I went back to the original positioning statement, released in
January 2000, that was the foundation for the development of our
mission. You may also recall this document, “Toward Global Education: A
White Paper.” (I’m happy to provide copies for those who wish to review
it.) I remain indebted to those pioneers who worked so thoughtfully to
provide us direction. They were:
• Martin Donoff
• James Hutton
• I.R. Isquith
• Elise Salem
• Peter Woolley
During those early months, many faculty and staff asked that I define
what they should do to implement the mission. As a young assistant
professor at the State University of New York at Oswego, I developed a
strong faith in the power, creativity and reliability of the faculty. I
learned that faculty and other professionals are the best judges of how
they should respond to a changing world. So rather than issue
directives, I have tried to offer guidance when appropriate. For
instance, in response to questions about clarifying the meaning of a
global education, I distributed a study published in the American
Educational Research Journal
titled, “Educating World Citizens: Toward Multinational Curriculum
Development.” I suggested and still believe these findings should be
guiding elements for a 21st century education. (If you would like a
copy of this article, please contact me.)
There is value, though, in providing a framework from which individuals
might translate the mission into each course, class and activity. So,
building on my recent reflections, I thought it now important to
provide the FDU community with a formal response to the question, “What
is Global Education?” It is my hope that this modest attempt to
describe global education will help us to better translate our mission
in concert with the ACE Internationalization Lab Team’s
The FDU White Paper on global education concluded,
It is as a final recommendation and, ultimately, the purpose of this
document that the authors wish to invite and encourage widespread
discussion and participation in these issues. For it is altogether
fitting that a global vision be globally considered.
In that same spirit, I offer the following thoughts to encourage your
further contributions to our continuing dialogue.
What Is Global Education?
During my inaugural address in September 2000, I laid out the case for
global education — a case built upon the promise and perils of
globalization. In a world increasingly marked by interconnectedness and
interdependence among countries, cultures and commerce, we enjoy
instant connection to new ideas and diverse peoples and the rapid
spread of the benefits of human progress. At the same time, we are
concerned that the fruits of this progress are not shared by all. We
also have greater reason to worry about the proliferation of threats
that can race beyond borders, ranging from environmental degradation to
contagious diseases to terrorism.
But while globalization and especially global commerce have brought
many of us closer together, we still don’t know a great deal about each
other. Responding to globalization requires a global education.
In those inaugural comments, I made a first attempt to outline what
global education is. I said, “A global education is much more than
studying abroad or developing exchange programs. It is an education
that ensures that students will be able to succeed in a world marked by
interdependence, diversity and rapid change. A global education is one
that provides knowledge and understanding of cultures, languages,
geography and global perspectives. Most importantly, a global education
is one that enables students to understand their roles in a global
community and teaches them how their actions can affect citizens
throughout the world.” I also might add that it demonstrates how events
around the world can affect students in their own lives and therefore
cannot be ignored.
I still believe this is a valuable starting point, but I’d like to add
more. It seems to me that a global education (and perhaps also a global
citizen) is characterized by:
1. Knowledge of the world;
2. Knowledge of the self and the individual’s place in the world; and
3. The ability to connect the dots in an ever-changing, increasingly
Global education can be summarized by connections and perspectives.
It’s about understanding the nature of the connections that link people
from all corners of the globe, and it’s about expanding those
connections for the betterment of all. It means considering the world
as a whole, with a rich (and sometimes unpleasant) interplay of nations
and cultures. And it’s about introducing ourselves and our students to
multiple viewpoints, so we might develop the ability to understand the
world through the eyes of others and to work alongside others from
different backgrounds. I’m convinced such understanding is essential to
reducing conflicts and forging solutions to the most pressing global
Many have considered the meaning of global education and global
citizenship. I am particularly attracted to the work of Robert Hanvey,
who, three decades ago, wrote An Attainable Global Perspective.
His ingredients of a global education included:
1. Perspective Consciousness
Students need to understand their views are not shared universally and
must develop the ability to see the world through the perspective of
2. “State of the World” Awareness
Students have to learn basic information about the world and the issues
facing human beings today, including an understanding of the causes of
events and their effects on different nations and peoples.
3. Cross-Cultural Awareness
Students should become familiar with other cultures and must be able to
relate to people from other backgrounds, while appreciating the many
varieties of cultures.
4. Conceiving and Thinking of the World as a Global System
Students must be able to comprehend the nature of systems and how
societies are linked together.
5. Awareness of Human Choice and Opportunities for Action
Students need to understand their responsibilities, realize the choices
facing individuals and nations and learn how to act as global citizens.
Global educators must regularly confront stereotypes, break down
disciplinary barriers, encourage alternative interpretations and global
dialogues, nurture tolerance and civility, link the particular to the
general and vice versa, and provide opportunities for cross-cultural
experiences and immersion. Global educators must help students
appreciate what is universal while understanding what is unique to
Certainly, as educators, we have long been expanding horizons,
introducing the unfamiliar and helping students connect the dots. Now,
we need to increase the scale of programs and broaden the pervasiveness
of the approach. Rather than disparate components of a curriculum or
ancillary parts of the educational experience, global issues and global
lessons must be integrated throughout our endeavors.
Over the last five years, we have taken more important steps than most
other universities, and a strong foundation is in place. But now we
must build upon this.
It’s important to keep in mind that global education is not a static
concept that we can define readily and arrange neatly in a drawer. It
is a living, evolving and sometimes messy process. If the heart of
global education is the interaction between teacher and learner, the
lifeline of global education flows with the vast collection of our
diverse and multiple efforts. Each of us brings a different perspective
to the mission. And each of us can use our unique talents in our
varying roles and fields to further our mission and serve our students.
Global education can mean many things, but ultimately for our students
it is defined by what we do to prepare them for a world in transition.
Just as we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to make an
imprint upon the world, we have a chance to contribute to the
distinction of our institution and prepare our students well for
success and leadership in a global age.