UW News

June 21, 2007

Task force promotes global citizenship

“UW undergraduates are global citizens. They understand, respect and learn from cultural differences; they recognize the interconnections and inequalities that define global life; and they think and act as responsible members of their global and local communities.”

That’s the vision of UW students laid out by the Task Force on Global Citizenship, which issued its report June 15. The task force was commissioned by Susan Jeffords, vice provost for global affairs; and Ed Taylor, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs, to “define ways for students to understand what it means to be global citizens and suggest ways the University might promote this goal,” Jeffords said.

Professor of Scandinavian Studies Christine Ingebritsen, who chaired the task force, said the group “brainstormed ways in which the University can build from its existing strengths and also promote new ways to engage students in global affairs.”

The task force set out nine specific recommendations:

  • Set expectations for global learning. The task force believes the UW should adopt global learning goals and develop measures to assess whether the goals are being met. Goals proposed by the group include the following: that each student acquire knowledge of at least one new language and culture, learn to recognize the interdependence among societies, develop a respect for other places and cultures, and acquire knowledge of critical transnational issues and problems. The task force believes global learning priorities should be stressed in admissions materials and at the annual Freshman Convocation.
  • Create new UW centers for global learning. The task force suggests that the University develop other international centers modeled on the current Rome center, or develop exchanges with other universities to use their centers. It also suggests global service learning activities.
  • Globalize the FIGs and TRIGs. Given that 70 percent of undergraduates join Freshman Interest Groups, the task force suggests discussions on global subjects in the groups and the recruitment of peer instructors with global experience.
  • Require two “G courses.” The task force suggests that courses with global content be labeled “G courses” and that two of these be required for graduation. Jeffords said her office has already surveyed UW courses, identifying those with “global” or “international” in the title, or the name of a country or region There are currently more than 1,000 such courses, including foreign languages. Almost 300 non-language international content courses are offered each year.
  • Expand the diversity of global learning opportunities. New internships, undergraduate research and service learning could be offered at new sites, the task force suggests. Also, the global classroom in Kane Hall could be used more often to create interactive teaching with class groups in other countries.
  • Provide access for global learners. The task force believes that students should not miss out on global learning because of lack of money. They recommend developing institutional resources to support such students.
  • Recognize and reward global citizenship education. The task force suggests that students who participate in global education have that noted on their transcripts and that a new award be created to honor those who show exceptional global citizenship. They also suggest that global education be a part of faculty merit reviews, that data on global education be collected from departments and programs, and that a certificate program on global citizenship be created.
  • Coordinate global learning for students. The task force questions the current separation of University offices and units involved in global learning, and suggests a Web site to help students sort out global learning opportunities.
  • Establish a Washington state global learning commons. The task force suggests that by making reciprocity agreements with other colleges and universities in the state, student opportunities for global learning could be expanded.

Ingebritsen said that working with the task force has been exciting because its members are all people who are passionate about global learning. “The University has many strengths in this area already,” she said, “and we know that many students are active in international causes, so part of our job is not getting in their way but finding ways to encourage them to think beyond the boundaries of the campus.”

In addition to its own discussions, the task force met with representatives from organizations in the community that are involved with global affairs. Many already have partnerships with the University, Ingebritsen said, and she hopes that new ones can be forged as a result of the meeting and the emphasis that the University is bringing to the global arena.

The task force report now goes to Jeffords and Taylor.

“There will be a process to gather feedback and launch conversations,” Jeffords said. “We’re anxious to move forward to implement as many of these ideas as possible.”

The full report can be found at https://www.washington.edu/provost/globalaffairs/initiatives/index.html.