Educating The Global Citizen

In March 2014, faculty and administrators from across the University joined a BU Greenhouse to share their thoughts on “Educating the Global Citizen.” The event was co-hosted by Global Programs, the School of Management (SMG) Global Programs, and BU’s Corporate Relations team as one in a series of Greenhouse events that Corporate Relations hosts throughout the year. The purpose of this working group was to identify existing best practices as well as new ideas on how to build greater intentionality in the facilitation of global learning among our students and our entire community.

Phrases like global citizen, global competence, and more recently global learning are widely used in higher education today, and there is a growing body of scholarship on this subject. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) notes that today’s students must be prepared to enter an increasingly diverse and global society defined by “disruption rather than certainty” and “interdependence rather than insularity.” (AAC&U, 2007)

Larry Braskamp, Professor Emeritus at Loyola University Chicago and a thought leader in the field, observes that within this global context, students will need to develop and internalize a global perspective into their thinking, sense of identity, and relationships with others. In short, he says, global learning comes from “encounters with difference that make a difference.” This takes increased awareness and coordination, but it also demands that we learn to communicate in new ways ourselves.

While there is no single definition of global learning, the Greenhouse discussion was framed with the help of a rubric designed by the AAC&U. The Global Learning VALUE Rubric was developed over a two-year period with the assistance of many scholars, who advise that it is best used as a starting point for discussion, and not proscriptive.

To maximize the Greenhouse’s small group discussion format, each of six groups was asked to focus on one of the rubric’s six themes of global learning:

  • Global self-awareness
  • Perspective taking
  • Cultural diversity
  • Personal and social responsibility
  • Understanding global systems
  • Applying knowledge to contemporary contexts

Read more on the groups’ discussions in the meeting minutes.

Several overarching themes resonated throughout the conversations, shedding light on areas where BU displays strength as well as areas for improvement in global engagement. A diverse student body, international brand recognition, on-campus resources like CELOP, and a high percentage of international campaign donors all contribute positively to the University’s global mission. There is clearly room to grow, however, when it comes to activity like peer benchmarking, balancing student body diversity tradeoffs (i.e. how to avoid sacrificing socio-economic for international diversity), maximizing the global resources that already exist on campus, and showing that “global” experiences can be local, too. Ultimately, the group observed, many of these perceived challenges are real opportunities for BU.

To find out about the next event in this series, contact Global Programs.