The mission of the Global Studies Institute is to increase student Global Competencies – the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to understand and act creatively and innovatively on issues of global significance – as part of comprehensive campus internationalization.
It has long been understood that those in internationally related professions require global competencies; too, with global markets as the driver, business majors have similarly been expected to build the corresponding skills and understandings. However, it is now clear that every profession requires global competencies. Today, an engineer needs to be able to integrate innovations from around the globe while applying knowledge across diverse cultural, intercultural, and transcultural environments. A farmer needs to understand that the combination of decreased transport costs and rising potato production in China means that it will be increasingly difficult to compete while low production potential for pecans in a Chinese market that is craving a nut of newfound cultural importance has driven global prices – and opportunities – to new highs. A plant biologist needs to understand a rapid spread of seeds that may be due to unintended globalizing forces and/or intended hybrids engineered for particular gains. Healthcare professionals need to track the sources of contagious diseases that often are closely related to unique national policies based on cultural mores and behavior.
Despite a long history of active faculty efforts in international education, delivery of global competency training is highly variant and, often, in need of significant consolidation and encouragement. Many institutions tend to do well at providing study abroad opportunities and thus helping students live outside of their culture. However, such high-impact programs normally involve only a very small percentage of students rather than affecting the vast majority of the student body.
Unfortunately, student initiative to take risks in the pursuit of cross-cultural learning — coping with other cultural customs and attitudes, refraining from judgment of others, and even an understanding of one’s own cultural norms — tends to suffer if global competencies and learning outcomes receive only limited or disconnected focus on campus where the vast preponderance of students are receiving their education primarily within their specific disciplines. Accordingly, the Global Studies Institute is positioned to prepare students across the disciplines through comprehensive internationalized curriculum and instruction for the learning outcomes required for successful careers in the 21st century.