The Office of International Programs hosted two lunch discussions on the global dimensions of undergraduate curriculum in April 2015. The purpose was to explore global learning outcomes, current successful strategies, and ways to that the Office of International Programs can further support faculty/staff in the development of globalized curricula.
Fourteen CSU employees participated in the two discussions, including tenure-track faculty, non-tenure track faculty, and academic affairs staff. Over half (8 participants) worked in the College of Liberal Arts. The Colleges of Agriculture, Business, and Health and Human Sciences were also represented.
Why are global dimensions important in undergraduate curriculum?
Over the course of the two gatherings, several themes became apparent as to why it is important for CSU students and faculty to be engaging with the global community. Themes are divided here into global citizenship, student integration and impact of mobility, local relevance, and multi-disciplinarity.
Participants identified specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, and personal responsibilities necessary for students to learn. The skills and knowledge gained through globalizing the curriculum was thought to increase students’ self-knowledge, reflection, awareness and critical thinking skills. Ultimately, participants expressed that globalized curricula prepare students for their responsibilities as a global citizen and for careers in a rapidly globalizing marketplace.
Student integration and impact of mobility
Participants discussed how globalized curricula and extracurricular activities may support integration of international and domestic students and help travelers from both groups understand their impact on communities they visit outside of their home country.
Participants recognized that almost all global skills have local relevance and many can be taught without travelling by working with US populations who have backgrounds that differ from an individual learners.
The groups noted that multicultural learning is often multidisciplinary and that it increases critical-thinking and problems-solving skills. One faculty member commented, “Just as multi-disciplinary academic work forces us to confront our own methodologies and validate or critique them, so I think international exposure forces us (and students) to confront our own values and understandings and, again, validate or critique and adjust them.”
Similarly, experiential learning (which is an essential component of global learning) increases student skills, ability to apply skills in multiple settings, and forces learners to confront their own values and understandings. Thus, globally focused curricula may increase self-awareness and learning across multiple dimensions.
What is CSU doing to globalize the curriculum?
Participants identified multiple areas in which a globalized curricula and co-curricular programming increase student learning. Examples of successful programs are listed here in four categories: Academic programs in single program or department, interdisciplinary academic programs, for-credit experiential programs, and non-credit co-academic programs. This list is by no means exhaustive of the many successful ways in which CSU has globalized curriculum and co-curricular programs. Rather, it provides a few examples of the many ways in which CSU faculty and staff are integrating a global perspective into student learning activities.
Academic programs, single department or program
- The partnership between CSU’ s Economics department and Foreign Trade University in Vietnam program will have provided the opportunity for 35 economics and business faculty to teach in Vietnam by November 2015. The department has welcomed 136 transfer students from FTU (178 by fall 2015). FTU transfer students represent about 10% of the undergraduate Economics major and 20% of graduating seniors. The increased Vietnamese population has changed the nature and focus of group projects in upper division coursework.
- Foreign Languages and Literatures has initiated Cultures and Language Across the Curriculum (CLAC) project as a means of supporting and promoting discipline-specific language learning. Foreign Languages and Literatures is willing to work with other departments across campus to increase access to language learning.
- Several departments within the College of Liberal Arts focus on cultural and social scientific learning within and outside of the United States, while departments in most colleges offer some internationally-focused programs or degrees.
Interdisciplinary academic programs
- Engineering and liberal arts combined degree (Engineering and Liberal Arts)
- International development studies minor (Office of International Programs)
- International studies major (College of Liberal Arts)
For-credit experiential learning opportunities
- Undergraduate research
- Service learning
- Education Abroad (opportunities to increase learning during pre-departure and reentry sessions)
- Field school experiences that make use of collaborative projects, ethnographic methods, or examine causes and alleviation of poverty
Non-credit, co-academic programs
- INTO-CSU language partners
- Chinese corner at Confucius Institute
- Engineering Professional Skills seminars
- United Nations Association programs (off-campus)
- Department-sponsored and campus-wide programming with international/intercultural content
- Alternative break programs (SLiCE and Office of International Programs)
What should CSU do to increase global dimensions in the undergraduate curriculum?
Participants developed a number of ideas of how CSU might further support the global dimensions of undergraduate curriculum. Facilitators had participants rank ideas. Participants prioritized better sharing the stories of faculty and students upon returning from international experiences and increasing opportunities for exchange. Attendees also felt that it would be important to implement full language requirements at CSU and to facilitate undergraduate and master’s students to take part in international research projects. Below is a list of other ideas generated. They are divided into the following categories: all university curriculum, faculty support, education abroad, and other opportunities for undergraduate student development.
All university curriculum
Participants discussed how support is needed from university administration to implement ideas that impact the CSU community as whole. It may be necessary to redefine the university administration’s understanding and support of internationalization as something that extends beyond student exchange and institutional partnerships and is applied more directly to teaching and learning. Ideas regarding university-wide curricular reform, included:
- Reevaluate or increase the AUCC requirements for Global and Cultural Awareness
- Create language requirements for the general curriculum and/or to programs with a global or international focus
- Provide funding to incentivize study abroad, undergraduate research, and course redevelopment
Participants questioned how faculty can best move past surface level internationalization in their courses, and suggested ideas that would provide peer-to-peer learning and a space for faculty to develop new pedagogical approaches based on their international experiences. Faculty expressed a possible need to develop global teaching skills for those without an international focus or for those with a regional or country focus to broaden perspectives. Outreach should include tenure track and non-tenure track faculty. Some concrete ideas on how to support faculty included:
- Promote the sharing of stories and pedagogies among faculty and students who have studied or taught/researched abroad.
- Collaborate with TILT to offer opportunities through master teaching sheets, workshops, or short courses
- Increase opportunities for faculty study tours
- Work with departments who have specific partnerships or international student populations to facilitate conversations on how maximize experiences and relationships for pedagogical purposes
Education abroad was discussed as an essential component of global learning. Participants suggested further developing pre- and post- departure to include a focused language and cultural component for students travelling to non-English speaking countries. Work with faculty to offer semester-long courses that prepare students to travel to a specific country or region specific. Post-trip follow-up might be expanded to include reflective learning and sharing student experiences. Stories might be shared at the department level as part of information sessions for perspective education abroad students. Ideally, additional funding support should be made available to allow all students equal opportunity to travel without financial barrier. Participants also mentioned assessment of long-term impacts of education abroad programs. Individuals also questioned if transfer students have ample opportunity to study abroad and if some faculty-led programs might be centrally managed to decrease competition between programs.
Other opportunities for undergraduate student development
Undergraduate research, field experiences, co-curricular programs, and career development were all mentioned by participants as ways to increase undergraduate global learning.
- Promote international research for undergraduate and graduate student and the creation of an international research center to support these efforts
- Allow professional development funds to be applied to students doing research abroad (CLA)
- Continue programming such as international career talks
- Create opportunities for faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students with international interests to interact and learn from one another
- Maximize opportunities in the local community and region through field experiences that include capacity building & collaborative projects with local reservations and other areas which may have different socio-economic make up to students backgrounds will increase the connection between local and global
This paper summarizes the discussions of fourteen CSU faculty and academic affairs staff on three key areas of globalized curricular at CSU: why is it important, what is CSU currently doing, and what should CSU be doing to globalize undergraduate curriculum. Discussions demonstrated that while CSU is already successful in some areas, there is still more that we can do to support student learning, faculty teaching, and departmental and university goals for global learning. This document is a starting point for further assessment, planning, and implementation of the global dimensions of undergraduate learning.