Crafting Dynamic Study Abroad
Curricula for Global Citizenship
The article examines the essential role of study abroad programs in preparing students for a complex, globalized world. Discover how strategic curriculum design can foster essential skills that help today’s students become tomorrow’s global leaders equipped to navigate an interconnected future.
The growing emphasis on globalization in today’s context has revived conversations about the responsibilities of both individuals and societies. Leaders in international education must consider that 21st century students have to prepare to live and work in an increasingly complex world. An educated person may need to develop the knowledge base, skills, and attitudes required to function in and contribute to a global society (Karen Hendershot, 2009). The educators are at the forefront of shaping the educational experiences that mold informed global citizens. One powerful avenue for achieving this goal is through the careful design of the study abroad curriculum that transcends the traditional boundaries of academic exploration. A study suggested short-term study abroad can have positive effects on several dimensions of global competence, namely internal readiness overall, open-mindedness, and attentiveness to diversity, as well as historical perspective (Schenker, 2019).
Data gathered directly from students in a study perceives a global citizen to be the following: one who engages in activism; is open-minded and accepting of other cultures in a respectful, tolerant, and non-judgmental fashion; pursues knowledge and seeks understanding; feels part of the human community; and possesses a sense of awareness, which includes not only self-awareness, but also awareness of the interconnections between local and global issues and of the impact of one’s actions on the world (Karen Hendershot, 2009).
As we explore the nuanced realm of study abroad curricula, it becomes evident that these programs serve as incubators for the development of skills essential for navigating an increasingly interconnected world. The crux lies not merely in providing students with a passport stamp but in crafting an experience that goes beyond the superficial and fosters a profound understanding of diverse cultures, global politics, and international relations. Therefore, consider crafting a dynamic study abroad curriculum that fosters the development of the following skills in students:
1. Risk-taking Abilities
Being immersed in an unfamiliar country and culture is already a huge step for students. Integrating never-done-before activities into the curriculum can help students push themselves further and increase their confidence.
However, due to the diverse backgrounds of students and varying levels of prior experiences with the host country’s culture, it is not ascertained which encounters are new for a particular student and which are not. What might be a first-time experience for one student might be a familiar one for another. Therefore, while designing the curriculum, different options can be created for students that allow everyone to try out something they have not done before. For instance, one afternoon during the program, the students can be given a list of activities to choose from. They can be encouraged to try out an activity that they haven’t done earlier. It could include purchasing food from a local market, taking a bus ride, or attending a spiritual activity. Encouragements like this push them out of their comfort zone and don’t feel like a burden either.
2. Collaborations Across Cultures
Collaborations across cultures refer to “an ability to work effectively in diverse teams” (Global Competence Model, 2018). To cultivate collaboration skills in the workplace, students should initiate early practice by engaging in diverse environments during their study term. Encouraging participation in study abroad programs can provide valuable opportunities for students to collaborate with local community members through activities like team projects, group discussions, and team challenges. This hands-on experience offers a chance to deepen their understanding of intercultural dynamics and develop teamwork skills that involve respecting, transcending, and effectively utilizing various cultural contexts, perspectives, traditions, and practices when interacting with multiple individuals.
For students, engaging in journaling can stand out as one of the most powerful methods to nurture internal readiness and, thus, self-awareness. Some of the study abroad programs incorporate blogging assignments; however, the daily discussion topics for the blog could be modified in order to promote more self-reflection. Encouraging students to explore and articulate their personal views on cultural similarities and differences, both prior to their study abroad journey and after their arrival, can provide insights into potential shifts in their perceptions.
4. Global Awareness
Global awareness refers to having a breadth of knowledge about nations and regions of the world, including their geographies, languages, religions, currencies, and cultures, as well as the world’s growing interconnectedness. Incorporating international statistics into the curriculum can be one way of sharpening the global awareness of students. They locate comparative data for their country and other countries, conduct research into identified similarities and differences, and suggest improvements. Using statistics to compare different countries and their policies or approaches to these themes can allow students to develop their own ideas and insights and lead them to more global awareness.
5. Technological Proficiency
In the digital age, leveraging technology becomes imperative for enhancing the study abroad experience. Virtual collaborations, online forums, and multimedia resources can serve as powerful tools to supplement traditional classroom learning. Integrating these elements into the study abroad curricula ensures that students remain connected not only with their host culture but also with a global network of peers.
By embracing technology, we bridge the gap between the physical and virtual realms, offering students a dynamic and interconnected learning experience. This not only prepares them for a technologically driven future but also instils a sense of global connectivity that extends beyond borders.
Paving the Way for Informed Global Citizens
In crafting study abroad curricula that emphasize intercultural understanding, global awareness, and practical skills, we are laying the foundation for the next generation of global citizens. Carefully designed intensive study abroad programs have the potential to make a significant impact on students and can foster their development of global competence.
Global Competence Model. (2018). Retrieved from Global Competence Associates: https://globallycompetent.com/global-competence-model/
Karen Hendershot, J. S. (2009). Study Abroad and Development of Global Citizen Identity and Cosmopolitan Ideals in Undergraduates. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences.
Schenker, T. (2019). Fostering Global Competence through Short-Term Study Abroad. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences .