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Educating for…

Global Citizenship
Global Leadership

How can Universities Help?

Fernando M. Reimers
Harvard University

Presented at the EDUCA Conference in Thailand

October 2010

“The best way to predict the future

is to invent it” Alan Kay

“The best way to prepare students

for the future, is to prepare them to
invent it”
Global Education Paradox
• We live in times of extraordinary educational
– Never in history have more students been taught
– Schools have become increasingly effective at
teaching what they intend to teach, although there is
great variation across schools in how effective they
• But…
– Are we teaching what matters most?
– Is education RELEVANT?
The Tri-Dimensional Nature of
Global Competency
• Global competency encompasses the
knowledge and skills to help people understand
the flat world in which they live, integrate across
disciplinary domains to comprehend global
affairs and events, and create possibilities to
address them.
• Global competencies are also the attitudinal and
ethical dispositions that make it possible to
interact peacefully, respectfully and productively
with fellow human beings from different
Global Competency
• A positive disposition toward cultural difference
and a framework of global values to engage
• An ability to speak, understand and think in
foreign languages.
• Deep knowledge and understanding of world
history, geography, the global dimensions of
topics such as health, climate and economics
and of the process of globalization itself (the
disciplinary and interdisciplinary dimension)
and a capacity to think critically and creatively
about the complexity of current global
Why is Global Competency
necessary for All?

• Globalization requires that young people

understand the process and how it
influences their lives.
• Globalization places an economic premium
in global skills
• Globalization redefines citizenship. The
boundaries between domestic and foreign
policy issues are increasingly fluid.
How can global competency be

• The multidimensional nature of global

competency means that providing
opportunities to develop it must also be a
multifaceted process.
• Central to developing global skills is to
foster student engagement and interest in
world affairs.
Global Competencies
• first set of competencies are „soft‟ skills and attitudes
that reflect an openness, interest and positive disposition
to the variation of human cultural expression reflected
internationally. In their most basic forms these skills
comprise tolerance towards cultural differences. More
advanced are the skills to recognize and negotiate
differences in cross-cultural contexts, the cultural
flexibility and adaptability necessary to develop empathy,
trust and to have effective inter-personal interactions in
diverse cultural contexts.
Global Competencies
• The second set of global competencies
are foreign language skills. These allow
communication through varied forms of
expression of language, with individuals
and groups who communicate principally
in languages other than the dominant
language in which one is raised.
Global Competencies
• The third set of global competencies results
from disciplinary knowledge in comparative
fields: comparative history, anthropology,
political science, economics and trade, literature,
world history. These are the competencies that
allow knowledge and understanding of problems
that have an international or global dimension.
• Knowledge, engagement, and
values are the cognitive and
attitudinal domains that global
education should target.
The Challenges and
Opportunities for Global
• Insufficient policy priority
• Limited teacher capacity
• Need for leadership in addressing the Global Education
Paradox to make education relevant.

• Those who choose to lead in this domain need to simultaneously

create incentives and opportunities for teachers to devote more time
and to enhance their own competencies in global education, while
they also work to advocate to establish this topic on the policy
agenda so that they can receive support from education supervisors,
school districts and ministries.
Universities can do the following:

• Develop programs of global studies in schools of education, or even

better, interdisciplinary programs in global studies that bring together
students in the schools of education with students in other
• Develop study abroad programs for students and student exchange
programs, to make the experience of students more cosmopolitan.
• Establish research and teaching partnerships with universities in
other latituted who are actively working to support global education
at the K-12 level.
• Establish inter-disciplinary teams that can produce curriculum and
instructional materials.
• Develop approaches to assess global competency among students
a the K-12 level and at the university level.
• The most important educational questions are, today as
in the past, questions about purpose.
• Globalization presents a new and very important context
for all of us. Global education is the new purpose for
these wonderful recent inventions of humanity we call
schools. To do this we need to focus on the development
of global values, foreign language skills, and foreign area
and globalization expertise.
• The avenues are to help all students develop global
competence and to continue developing rigorous
curricula, instructional materials and opportunities for
teacher education.
• The path is clear and within reach, and universities that
step up to this challenge are likely to find in students and
parents their best allies in the fascinating endeavor of
making education relevant.