Peer Review

From the Editor

I am one of many who live on planet earth
I take my role here seriously
I am part of everything that’s going on
‘Cause I believe in me
I am a part of everything
A part of everyone, everywhere
I am here and I belong
I’m a citizen of this world

“I’m a Citizen of This World” by Teresa Jennings (ASCAP) © 1994
Plank Road Publishing, Inc. • All Rights Reserved • Used by permission

 

When my daughter and son were students at Oak View Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, their assemblies began with everyone—the principal, teachers, parents, and students—signing and singing a rousing version of I’m a Citizen of This World. Oak View’s classrooms were filled with students who had roots in more than thirty countries, including many who spoke English as a second language, so the song’s effect on the group was two-fold. It allowed school constituents to celebrate their diversity and the song’s asset-based message helped to build a stronger educational community. While the song’s lyrics are simple, they convey a profound notion that is relevant to this issue of Peer Review—by embracing the role of world citizens, students feel empowered to address challenges beyond their national borders. As such, one of the goals included in the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) 2018−2022 strategic plan was to lead institutions and communities in articulating and demonstrating the value of liberal education for work, life, global citizenship, and democracy.

Much of AAC&U’s global work is led by Dawn Michele Whitehead, AAC&U’s senior director for global learning and curricular change in the Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons. Even with her demanding domestic and international travel schedule, Dawn offered guidance for this issue by identifying authors and providing support throughout the journal production. She also shared the following thoughts on why global learning is so important for today’s students.

The time for global learning for all is now. The world is so tightly connected, and we can truly see the global in many of our local communities. In order to prepare students to be active, engaged citizens, global learning must be a part of their required learning. They must learn to engage and wrestle with diverse ideas in a civil manner and be prepared to offer their own rational, researched, and reasoned perspectives in response. They must also be ready and able to understand the differing perspectives of others without dehumanizing the individuals expressing these ideas. Employers have also clearly made the case that the skills of global learning—problem solving in diverse groups, intercultural and cross-cultural communication—are essential for all students regardless of majors. The emerging tension between and among individuals and groups across segments of society also seems to be growing, and global learning positions students to be prepared to engage and not simply tolerate differences as they attempt to address the challenges facing their local communities and the world.

It is imperative that all students have access to multiple experiences of global learning throughout their educational experiences. It is not enough to focus on the ten percent of American students who study abroad. We must find a way to ensure that all students have this foundation for global learning in their general education and across the majors. With intentional, sustained institutional efforts, global learning can be ubiquitous across the institution, and administrators, faculty, and staff can all fully understand their important roles in advancing global learning for their students.

The authors in this issue of Peer Review offer a variety of ways to make global learning universal, and I challenge you to make global learning for all students a reality at your institution.

Global learning, both inside and outside of the classroom, leads to outcomes that stay with students long past graduation. As AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella said during a 2016 Chronicle of Higher Education interview, “In a world that is increasingly global and interdependent and where rapidly changing technology means rapid obsolescence, the best that we can offer students today is the capacity to work with others who are different from themselves in diverse teams and to be adaptable and flexible in a world where the jobs of the future have not yet been invented.”

 

Previous Issues