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The Value of Study Abroad

Principles of Global Learning

Cultural Competency | Critical Reflection | Contextualization | Commitment to Change | Courage 

Global learning is a critical analysis of and an engagement with complex, interdependent global systems and legacies. Through global learning, students should 1) become informed, open-minded, and responsible individuals attentive to diversity across the spectrum of differences, 2) seek to understand how actions affect both local and global communities, and 3) address the world's most urgent and enduring issues collaboratively and equitably.

Effective and transformative global learning offers students meaningful opportunities to analyze and explore complex global challenges, collaborate respectfully with diverse others, apply learning to take responsible action in contemporary global contexts, and evaluate the goals, methods, and consequences of that action. Global learning should enhance students' sense of identity, community, ethics, and perspective-taking. Global learning is based on the principle that the world is a collection of interdependent yet inequitable systems and that higher education has a vital role in expanding knowledge of human and natural systems, privilege and stratification, and sustainability and development to foster individuals' ability to advance equity and justice at home and abroad. 

Global Self-Awareness: in the context of global learning, the continuum through which students develop a mature, integrated identity with a systemic understanding of the interrelationships between the self, local and global communities, and the natural and physical world.

Perspective-Taking: the ability to engage and learn from perspectives and experiences different from one's own and to understand how one's place in the world both informs and limits one's knowledge. The goal is to develop the capacity to understand the interrelationships between multiple perspectives, such as personal, social, cultural, disciplinary, environmental, local, and global.

Understanding Cultural Diversity: the ability to recognize the origins and influences of one's own cultural heritage along with its limitations in providing all that one needs to know in the world. This includes the curiosity to learn respectfully about the cultural diversity of other people and on an individual level to traverse cultural boundaries to bridge differences and collaboratively reach common goals. On a systems level, the important skill of comparatively analyzing how cultures can be unjustly marked and assigned a place within power structures that determine hierarchies, inequalities, and opportunities and which can vary over time and place. This can include, but is not limited to, understanding race, ethnicity, gender, nationhood, religion, and class.

Personal and Social Responsibility: the ability to recognize one's responsibilities to society (locally, nationally, and globally) and to develop a perspective of ethics and power relations both across the globe and within individual societies. This requires developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning and action.

Global Systems: the complex and overlapping worldwide systems, including natural systems (those systems associated with the natural world) and human systems (those systems developed by humans), which operate in observable patterns and often are affected by or are the result of human design or disruption. These systems influence how life is lived and what options are open to whom. Students need to understand how these systems 1) are influenced and/or constructed, 2) operate with differential consequences, 3) affect the human and natural world, and 4) can be altered.

Knowledge Application: in the context of global learning, the application of an integrated and systemic understanding of the interrelationships between contemporary and past challenges facing cultures, societies, and the natural world (i.e., contexts) on the local and global levels. An ability to apply knowledge and skills gained through higher learning to real-life problem-solving both alone and with others.

To share your learning objectives for an experience abroad, complete the online form here

Excerpted with permission from VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) authored and hosted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. 

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