Attitudes Toward Global Education Undiminished by 9/11
AAC&U's newly released report,
Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation
Goes to College, challenges higher education to ensure
that all undergraduate students have the opportunity to learn
about both the values and histories underlying U.S. democracy
and global and cross-cultural issues. This is one of a series
of key liberal education outcomes discussed in the report
and it appears to be one widely supported by students and
the general public.
Sponsored by the American Council
on Education (ACE), a recent survey involved more than 3,000
students, faculty, and adults outside academe. It asked them
a variety of questions about global education. ACE was able
to compare these results with a survey done in 2000 on the
same subject. The results show an increase of support among
Americans to study foreign nations' issues, languages, and
cultures since September 11.
The feared decrease in public support
after September 11 never materialized, and the public's support
for foreign language training is particularly evident.
Overall, support for study abroad
remains strong, and is strongest in minority populations, and
among younger people, and men. Support for the idea of study
abroad and hosting of international scholars also remains high,
but the numbers are lower when these situations are applied
personally, suggesting that individuals strongly believe in
the importance of cultural exchange, but have reservations about
In 2000, 77 percent of the public
supported a foreign language requirement in high school;
71 percent supported a college language requirement; and
77 percent supported an international course requirement
in college. After September 11, these numbers changed
little, but the intensity of support for international
education increased in some areas. Eighty percent of respondents
in the 2002 survey supported a high school language requirement,
while 74 percent supported a college requirement. Support
for international education remained unchanged.
- In 2000, 36 percent of whites
reported that they strongly support foreign language requirements
in college, compared with 52 percent of minorities. In 2002,
this number increased to 45 percent among whites and 63
percent among minorities.
Undergraduate interest in taking
courses with international themes has risen sharply since
September 11th. When asked to compare their interest to
before the attacks more than one-third responded that
they are more likely to take these types of classes now.
The public wants higher education
to increase its role in educating the public about global
issues and to do it better. Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents
agreed that higher education has a responsibility to educate
the public about international issues, but one in four
respondents said their formal education did not equip
them with sufficient understanding of international issues.
Minority respondents were most emphatic about the responsibility
of higher education to enhance the public's awareness.
- Support for study abroad remains
"somewhat conditional." More than 40 percent of
respondents said they were less likely to encourage a family
member to study abroad. This hesitancy is especially evident
among respondents older than 45.
- While minority respondents
strongly support study abroad programs (90 percent of African
American and 83 percent of Hispanics compared to 76 percent
of whites) statistics show few actually do study abroad.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Eighty percent of 2002 respondents
agreed that the presence of international students on U.S.
campuses enriches the learning experience for American students.
- Sixty percent of undergraduate
students believe that all students should have a study abroad
experience during their college careers.
The majority of those surveyed
believe that their own education did not prepare them
to fully understand international events.
Only 12 percent of faculty report
that September 11 has made them less likely to advise
students to study abroad.
- The general public strongly supports
study abroad in the abstract, but have reservations personally.
- Minorities show strongest
support for and interest in international education.