Are teachers prepared to teach in an era of hyper-globalization? What professional development does your department, school, and district provide? What opportunities do you seek out to become informed about historical and contemporary globalization. I hope that your understanding of globalization comes from more than Tom Friedman and his claims about flatness.
For example, Donald Wright in his work The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, the Gambia reminds us of the importance of Immanuel Wallerstein’s “world system’s” theory when conceptualizing globalization:
Wallerstein’s theory can set the stage for global world views. But we need to get in the weeds a bit. To do that, read this piece on global wealth peaks and valleys, “The truth about extreme global inequality” and view the follow up video Global Wealth Inequality – What you never knew you never knew, from The Rules
And finally, watch this TED talk that directly challenges Friedman:
Pankaj Ghemawat: Actually, The World Isn’t Flat
Indeed, a globalized world is complex to understand, navigate, and predict. Functioning in these diverse contexts require teachers to be nimble and informed practitioners who can meet the needs of students, prepare them for the future, and gather and utilize information for a range of purposes in a variety of formations. Being globally savvy is indeed a demanding charge!
However, opportunities do exist. A dynamic new global education program,the Global Competency Certificate, is now being offered! “Developed by leading experts in global education – Teachers College, Columbia University, World Savvy, and Asia Society, the GCC program is designed specifically for in-service educators who are interested in embedding global learning into their teaching practice and preparing their students for the global reality beyond the classroom.”
I recently spoke with Ms. Jennifer Lofing, Senior Associate of Academic Affairs at World Savvy, about global education, teacher development, and the GCC experience.
Checkout her insights below, spread the word, and consider being part of a GCC cohort. Enjoy!
1) What is your background and current position at World Savvy? I have an international development background. After getting my Master’s in Law & Diplomacy (International Relations), I worked for several international non-profit organizations building conflict resolution and community development capacity in countries around the world. I have lived and/or worked in over 40 countries, including some time in Germany as a student and in Albania & Kosovo. Learning about the world and connecting with people across the world has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. At World Savvy, I head up Academic Affairs for the Global Competence Certificate program, the new online graduate level certificate for teachers in Global Competence Education. In this capacity, I am responsible for interacting with potential and current program participants—everything from recruiting to advising and supporting. It is really exciting to work with these educators, who are fulfilling a very important role in building global citizenship among their students.
2) How did you get involved with global education? During the time I was working overseas, I grew tired and frustrated of seeing the same problems over and over again. A feeling started to form in me that the only way we were ever going to make any meaningful change was if we grew the number of people who can understand the complexity of the world and work across the artificial barriers that divide us to find solutions. The best way to do this is to start young! So, I began to focus on global education as a way to build that critical mass of global citizens and leaders who we will need if we are going to address the huge challenges (and opportunities!) that face us.
3) What are the goals of the GCC program? The GCC program aims to build a pipeline of globally competent K-12 educators and school leaders who will have the capacity to effectively prepare young people to be globally informed, engaged citizens. Put another way, we are building the capacity within our educational system to facilitate the development of our young people as global citizens on a large scale.
4) How do you explain the program? What is your elevator pitch? The GCC fills a big gap in global competence professional development by providing an opportunity for educators to reflect in a very deep and sustained way on what global competence means for them personally and for their students. It does this through rigorous academic coursework, an immersive fieldwork opportunity, and a peer-supported capstone project. And, importantly, it utilizes innovative technology to enable learning and sharing among a far-flung group of global competence education leaders while demonstrating how technology can be used to build global community.
5) I believe starting with the Why is important. How would you answer “why do I need to be skilled in global competencies?” I appreciate the question, though I feel in this case it’s a little bit like asking why a fish needs to know how to swim! We are more connected to and impacted by the world than ever before. We regularly communicate with people from different cultures and countries both in our home communities as well as through the internet, media, and travel. We are affected daily by economic events, climate change, conflict, disease pandemics and other phenomena that don’t have any regard for national borders. To thrive in this world requires resilience, adaptability, openness, curiosity….global competence! There are opportunities as well—to eradicate poverty or invent the next paradigm-shifting technology. These achievements will be made by those who question prevailing assumptions, who form opinions based on exploration and evidence, who think critically and problem solve…global competencies!
6) Where have you seen global competencies in action in the classroom? There are already so many teacher-leaders who are doing this every day. At World Savvy, we work with an incredible group of educators across the country who challenge their students to think about global issues from multiple disciplines and perspectives and, importantly, push them to consider what they can do to address those issues. One of my favorite examples that I’ve seen recently is a middle school math teacher who weaves micro-finance (and the poverty, equality and sustainability issues microfinance helps address) into her math class.
7) How do educators get more information or sign up for GCC? The online application is available at www.globalcompetencecertificate.org.
8) How do departments, students, schools, communities benefit from a teacher who is globally competent? Teachers who are committed to developing their own global competence are invaluable assets in the classroom, the school, and the community at large. Through their demonstration and leadership, they are able to help the entire community—adults as well as kids—understand that global competence is a lifelong journey rather than a final destination. They are the experts and advocates that departments, schools and districts need to ensure that all kids are graduating with the preparation they need to thrive in college, career, and life.
9) What is the long view for this program? We have big plans for the GCC! We are developing a Leadership Track for the 2015-16 year that will address the particular needs of school and district leaders and administrators. We also plan to expand the GCC to include more international participation. We have already had interest from teachers in Africa, Asia, and Europe! We are working to build a truly global program where teachers from around the world will be able to collaboratively build global competence for themselves and their students. A little further down the road, watch for the GCC online Master’s degree program.
10) How did World Savvy come to partner with Columbia University’s Teachers College & Asia Society? The GCC is the culmination of a unique collaboration between the three founding organizations—Asia Society, Teachers College, and World Savvy. These three organizations have deep experience in global competence education as well as teacher preparation and professional development. We have worked together at every stage of the program—from conceptualization to program and course design—and will continue to cooperate closely as we roll out the first year of the program, evaluate the results, and feed that information back into the program’s continuous development and improvement. Also, we are currently collaborating on the design of the Leadership Track of the GCC.
11) What is your favorite “words of wisdom” or quote regarding global competency? Some years back, I kept a sticky note in my planner (pre- smart phone!) with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.” At the time, I had no idea that this was supposedly the punch line to Vonnegut’s favorite dirty joke. But, that’s neither here nor there. For me, the quote inspired openness to new opportunities, comfort with ambiguity and unfamiliar situations, adaptability, and basically a life of exploring and investigating the world. Global competencies, one and all!
12) Anything else to add? Check out the Global Competence Certificate website at www.globalcompetencecertificate.org! We’ve got lots of great information about the program, instructors, courses and we’ll be adding more information about fieldwork sites and student experience as the GCC progresses. Join us!