What a World: How to Bring It to Your Students
April 2013, Volume 16, Number 4
By Tara Ebersole and Rachele Lawton
The Global Education program at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) began several years ago with a small group of individuals who embraced the increasing interconnectedness and diversity of the world and wanted to transform their students into global citizens who would be able to navigate that world. This required the development of a framework that would bring the world to CCBC’s students. Today, Global Education is a collegewide initiative that encompasses many promising practices in teaching and learning.
Defining the Terms and Reviewing the Literature
To begin, CCBC had to conceptualize global citizenship in a way that resonated with its own culture. Therefore, global education was conceived as an umbrella term that integrated various components, including: (1) multicultural education, which focuses on equity for diverse students from different cultures; (2) intercultural competencies, which involves successful interaction and communication with people of various backgrounds; (3) international education, which refers to activities that transcend national borders to engage both domestic and international students; and (4) global studies, which takes an interdisciplinary, curricular approach to developing global perspectives.
CCBC also learned that various higher education organizations supported the concept of global education. The American Association of Community Colleges, for example, recognized that society is adversely impacted by the lack of global perspectives and foreign language skills amongst students today; therefore, global/intercultural education is one of its five strategic action areas (2013).
Similarly, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) identified essential globally oriented learning outcomes in their College Learning for the New Global Century report (2007). The AAC&U also conducted a national survey of employers and employees who were recent college graduates to determine the need for global perspectives and intercultural competencies in the workforce (Hart, 2007). Findings indicated that many employers feel that too many recent college graduates do not have the global skills necessary for success today, and many employees believe that college did not prepare them well for success in today’s global economy. Global issues was third in a list of learning outcomes ranked according to priority by recent graduates.
Finally, in the American Council on Education report, Building a Strategic Framework for Comprehensive Internationalization, Olson, Green, and Hill (2005) acknowledged that students are unprepared to live in an increasing global society. Therefore, they recommend internationalizing the general education curriculum with measurable outcomes, and supporting this effort with faculty development.
Assessing Student Learning Outcomes and Conducting an Inventory
CCBC has a rich history of assessing student learning outcomes through multiple processes. As a result, data obtained through multiple assessments were used to identify how much global learning was occurring and which aspects of global education should be prioritized. First, general education learning outcomes are assessed through the use of an analytic rubric with multiple criteria, which is applied to a common graded assignment. One criterion is cultural appreciation, and data from up to 2007 revealed that across the disciplines, scores were lowest in this and faculty were least likely to assess it.
In addition, in 2006 a pilot project was implemented whereby faculty were asked to determine which of four core areas (communication, problem solving, global perspectives and social responsibility, and independent learning and personal management) they were teaching and assessing most. The results of these self-assessments identified global perspectives and social responsibility as the weakest area.
Finally, in the past, CCBC graduates were asked to participate in graduation exit surveys. Students self-assessed their knowledge of multiple topics at the beginning and end of their education at CCBC. Results indicated that students viewed their knowledge of other cultures as the least improved topic when they graduated from CCBC.
The results of these assessments indicated that a new approach would be necessary in order to help students become global citizens. At the time, CCBC had several initiatives in place that were global in nature, including international travel, service learning/civic engagement, international/ESOL students, and the celebration of International Education Week. There were also many courses offered that, by the nature of their disciplines, had an international focus, though there were still many more courses with the potential for internationalization. Committees to support international efforts and enhance the development of intercultural competencies existed, but they were not centralized, so communication between groups and coordination between activities was not well-facilitated. Though all noteworthy, these efforts were not enough to ensure global learning for all students, and because they were disconnected, a gap analysis could not be completed without a full inventory of existing international programming. It was, therefore, determined that the development of a Global Education program that could provide a comprehensive, holistic and interdisciplinary approach to education in the 21st Century was necessary.
Establishing a Global Education Advisory Board and Creating a Framework
A proposal to develop such a program was submitted to and approved by CCBC’s administration in 2008. Because Global Education was seen as a college-wide initiative, individuals from many areas of the institution were asked to provide representatives for the Global Education Advisory Board (GEAB). GEAB was designed as an overarching body to develop and coordinate all aspects of Global Education at CCBC, including identifying a budget, setting priorities, establishing subcommittees, providing a venue for collaboration and communication, reporting progress, and ensuring continuing program evolution and assessment.
GEAB began to provide a centralized platform for Global Education, which included the formation of related subcommittees. Current subcommittees are Professional Development, Community Outreach, Global Connections, Curriculum, and Social Justice and Peace. Many areas of CCBC are represented on the subcommittees, which work toward supporting and developing initiatives and ensuring that college-wide global programming exists. The subcommittee structure is reviewed biannually to ensure that the needs of Global Education are being met.
Developing the Programs and Requesting Additional Support
The GEAB co-chairs and subcommittees have collaborated to create a number of global programs for both students and faculty/staff. A faculty/staff workshop series titled Developing Global Citizenship was developed and offered through the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Workshops, which are facilitated by experienced CCBC faculty and staff, cover topics such as global studies, intercultural competencies, and intercultural conflict resolution. The workshop series culminates with a global project that participants develop and implement, either in their classes or in another area of the institution. Participants must also present their project and then submit it for approval, after which they may earn graduate equivalency credit.
As another form of professional development, faculty members are eligible to apply for a Faculty International Travel (FIT) grant, which is a competitive, internal mini-grant that supports international travel. Applicants must propose a travel-related project that will broadly impact the CCBC community.
An important global offering for students is the Global Distinction program, which honors and recognizes individuals who have completed a globally intensive curriculum. This program was developed with Howard Community College and has been recognized through two national awards, the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education and the Diane Hacker Reaching Across Borders award. Criteria include 15 credits of courses identified as globally intensive, including World Language courses, participation in international activities, and a cultural immersion experience. Faculty are also encouraged to globalize their courses in order to increase options for students pursuing this program.
Another means of globalizing the curriculum is through the Intercultural Dialogues program, which involves international student visits to courses in various disciplines. This program creates dialogue between domestic and international students on a variety of topics and facilitates an open exchange between individuals whose backgrounds differ. Students enrolled in the targeted courses ask questions, and instructors may communicate with student visitors beforehand to tailor the dialogue to their curriculum. Intercultural Dialogues provide a simple way to introduce a global element into any course.
As these global initiatives at CCBC began to emerge and evolve, it became clear that an advisory board alone could not provide a sufficient level of support. Therefore, reassigned time was provided to hire faculty members to coordinate Global Initiatives (internal initiatives including the Global Citizenship workshop series, Intercultural Dialogues, and the Global Distinction program) and Global Studies (external initiatives including credit-based travel and international partnerships). These faculty coordinators and the two co-chairs of GEAB form CCBC’s Global Education Steering Committee, which plans advisory board meetings and provides overall leadership for Global Education.
Assessing Progress and Planning for the Future
CCBC’s Global Education program is currently in its fourth year. Though determining its impact will require time, there have been some promising developments. Surveys from the Developing Global Citizenship workshop series and testimonials from FIT grant recipients indicate that faculty members are applying new knowledge and experiences to enhance global perspectives within their classrooms. Students who have participated in the Global Distinction and Intercultural Dialogue programs have provided qualitative data to suggest that they, too, have grown personally and academically as a result of their engagement in global initiatives. Finally, some preliminary and comparative General Education assessment results suggest that more faculty are assessing cultural appreciation, and that students may be developing global perspectives at a higher rate than they did in the past.
There is still much work to be done, and Global Education will continue to evolve as new objectives are identified. While GEAB acknowledges that the global economy is one aspect of Global Education, it also strives to bring peace and social justice issues and intercultural understanding, which are important tenets of global citizenship, to the forefront of the global education agenda. GEAB also hopes to develop more partnerships, both local and global, and to enable more students to travel for credit and for experiential learning.
Some long term goals are to improve scores on General Education assessments, increase enrollments in globally intensive courses, and offer more professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. However, GEAB is still determining how to fully assess the transformative learning potential and impact of each existing global initiative, which is an evolving process.
Conclusions: What has CCBC Learned?
It is possible to establish a comprehensive Global Education program that has a meaningful impact without a budget or a director if there are passionate, committed individuals willing to serve as resources. CCBC has demonstrated that the creation of such a program should be within the reach of most community colleges. Initially it is important to consider what global means in each institutional context, to conduct research, and to examine data that can be used as a baseline to develop a rationale. It is likely that most institutions already have some existing global initiatives, and taking an inventory can help align those efforts and reduce the need to reinvent the wheel. Then, a group that can provide leadership for the creation of a workable framework needs to be established, at which point the implementation of new initiatives can begin.
Administrative support is necessary for the sustainability and evolution of any program, and it may be easier to justify requests for support once some goals and outcomes have been achieved. Fortunately, CCBC’s administration has recognized the importance of global education and has been a steady source of support. While the Global Education program in its current iteration began as a bottom-up, grassroots effort, it has now found a home in the administrative structure under the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The college’s ultimate goal is to establish a Center for Global Education which will continue to develop global citizens within the CCBC community.
American Association of Colleges and Universities. (2007). College learning for the new global century: A report from the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_final.pdf
American Association of Community Colleges.(2013). Who we are. Retrieved from http://www.aacc.nche.edu/About/Who/Pages/default.aspx
Olson, C., M., Green, M., & Hill, B. (2005). Building a strategic framework for comprehensive internationalization. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.
Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. (Hart). (2007). How should colleges prepare students to succeed in today’s global economy? Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/advocacy/leap/documents/re8097abcombined.pdf
Tara Ebersole is Professor of Biology and STEM Liaison and Rachele Lawton is Associate Professor, ESOL, and Chair, Reading & Language Department, at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland.
Opinions expressed by the authors of Learning Abstracts are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.