USF Chosen To Be Part of Global Education Project

USF is one of 32 U.S. universities revising general education for an interconnected world.

 

By Vickie Chachere

USF.edu News Manager

 

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 9, 2010) –  The University of South Florida has been selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as one of 32 universities to participate in General Education for a Global Century, a curriculum and faculty development project aimed at educating students in all aspects of a rapidly globalizing society.

 

The education effort is part of AAC&U’s Shared Futures initiative and is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. More than 140 institutions applied to be part of the initiative; USF is the only Florida university to offer the novel study path for first-time college students.

 

USF’s selection comes at a time when higher education leaders are increasingly focused on global curriculum as a strategy to secure the competitive edge of American students, as well as bolster the nation’s diplomatic and security interests around the world. In 2008, 9/11 Commission leaders Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton wrote in a op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor that “ignorance of

the world is a national liability”.

 

USF’s initiative aims to change that.

 

“From the moment incoming undergraduates walk on campus, they’ll begin to understand the need for a global perspective and have a structured pathway to develop the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to address some of the world’s most pressing problems,” said Karla Davis-Salazar, coordinator for USF General Education.

 

 “I envision the Global Citizenship program becoming a USF signature – in much the same way that the new School of Global Sustainability is at the graduate level.”

 

USF students beginning in the fall of 2011 will focus the first two years of their undergraduate study on a series of courses centered on global topics and will be able to complete their baccalaureate degree in their major of choice within four years. The program is geared toward those interested in pursuing degrees and careers related to global issues, including environmental and cultural sustainability, public and community health, economic development and sustainable enterprise, human rights and social justice.

 

In addition to being able to take advantage of small classes, a diverse and interdisciplinary curriculum and interaction with USF faculty leading the university’s global engagement initiatives, students will have opportunities for service learning opportunities that take them into the communities they study, directed research projects and opportunities to study abroad.

 

Students who complete the requirements will receive a study abroad scholarship and upon completion of both their general education requirements and the study abroad experience, will receive a Certificate in Global Citizenship.

                                                                                                    

The program builds on USF’s Plan, which sets a focus on increasing global literacy and impact as one of its key goals. The focus on global literacy reflects an ideological commitment to providing students with opportunities to learn about global forces and world culture - in the classroom and out of it.

 

Moving toward this goal, USF has created USF World to streamline, coordinate, and facilitate global experiences; entered into a private/public joint venture to bring more international students to USF, and through the Office of the Provost developed a unique program of faculty collaborative research called the Global Academic Partners Program. USF has on-going international sites in Panama, Malaysia and Ghana.

 

The USF Office of Community Engagement, Office of Sustainability and Office of Undergraduate Research will join forces in support of the new global education program and the courses centered on human rights, the environment, culture and social justice clusters.

                     

Nationwide, the effort creates a new opportunity for students who will be living, working and socializing in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world to begin their careers with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities of globalization.

 

“Increasingly, in their mission statements and strategic plans, colleges and universities promise that their graduates will develop the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to act as responsible and productive global citizens in an interconnected and interdependent world. Yet in most cases general education curricular designs have not kept pace with the rhetoric,” said AAC&U Director of Global Learning and Curricular Change Kevin Hovland.

 

“These selected institutions will all be working together to create clear and creative pathways—horizontally and vertically—through which students can connect their learning and achieve essential global learning outcomes. Many of these schools have already made significant progress in reimagining general education for a global century and, in this project, they will be able to test new curricular models, assess global learning outcomes, and share insights with each other and with the larger higher education community.”

 

Institutional teams will spend the fall and winter on their home campuses refining general education reform strategies and strengthening connections between existing general education goals and outcomes and essential global learning outcomes. They will also inventory the curricular and co-curricular opportunities for global learning that already exist on their campuses and ways those opportunities could be better integrated within their larger general education efforts.

 

Working through a social networking website, team members will help identify common areas of interest and concern. Those critical issues will be addressed in the project’s central activity—an intensive summer institute in 2011.

 

“It was gratifying to see how many campuses applied to be part of this initiative,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “It is testament to how seriously today’s academy takes the challenge of preparing college students to participate effectively and responsibly in an interdependent global community.

 

“Both their future employers and our society need students with much higher levels of global knowledge and skill.  This initiative will help the higher education community graduate students with these critical capacities.  The Shared Futures initiative and this work on general education are important foci for AAC&U’s ongoing work to connect liberal education with the needs of a fast-changing world.”

 

For additional information about the initiative, see: http://www.aacu.org/SharedFutures/global_century.

 

Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.