International education is increasingly becoming the primary means by which societies will bridge the cultural and linguistic divides not only in the United States, but globally. With the challenges shared by societies being global and interdisciplinary in nature, and so too are the solutions. The world demands a competent workforce able to integrate, and thrive in different societies through experience. To achieve this demand, professionals in education must overcome the issue of lacking awareness of an international education in every class room and campus. Lack of knowledge in the opportunities to learn about and experience other cultures stifles the abilities of this generation to embrace the world of tomorrow.
On May 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurría stated that skills have become the global currency of the 21st century. Without proper investment in skills, people languish in the margins of society where technological progress does not translate to economic growth, and the countries can no longer compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global society. A globally influenced education allows students to cultivate and harness a unique set of skills to compete globally. It calls on educators to uphold the highest educational standard, challenging growing leaders by instilling best practices of disciplined learning, consistency in excellence and appreciation for the diversity we all embrace.
This is no easy task. What should all U.S. students be expected to know and understand about the world? What skills and attributes will students need to confront future problems, which will be global in scope? What do scholars from international relations disciplines and experienced practitioners of global education believe students should know and how can these insights be best incorporated into existing standards? For those who have studied abroad or had any resident international experience, how can those lessons learned and experience be harnessed and reinforced as students return to their respective home, professional and professional communities? The solution includes but by any means is not limited to duties of professionals in education across disciplines to:
- Increasing capacities of schools and colleges by improving access to high-quality international educational experiences by integrate internationally focused courses within the current learning curriculum.
- Increasing the number and diversity of students who study and intern abroad and encouraging students and institutions to choose nontraditional study-abroad locations
- Help under-represented U.S. institutions offer and promote study-abroad opportunities for their students
- Actively promote study abroad and encourage students, teachers, and citizens at all levels to study within the U.S. and vise a versa
We must be aware of the opportunities in order to take advantage and utilize them to maximum capacity by introducing international relations, languages and cultural studies to the classroom and reinforcing that teaching with firsthand experience through study, volunteering and teaching abroad. Enhancing the abilities and skillsets of a generation of individuals to dispel preconceived notions about any culture and society, effectively communicate and appreciate diversity moves this generation closer to tackling global challenges.
The Diversity Network sends its sincere thanks and appreciation to Zubida Bahkeit for sharing her thoughts on the most pressing issue facing international education today. If you would like to share your thoughts, email us at members(at)diversitynetwork.org.