FIPSE Update: Shared Futures Project Emphasizes Global Learning

June 24, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following article, which appeared in volume 2, issue 1 of the May 2011 Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Update, reports on Arcadia University’s innovative Global Learning Curriculum made possible by a FIPSE Comprehensive Program Grant. A unit of the Higher Education programs located within the Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, FIPSE seeks to support the implementation of educational reform ideas, evaluate their functionality, and share findings with the larger education community.

A Student’s View of Global Connections in Arcadia University’s Undergraduate Curriculum

Project Director: Caryn McTighe Musil, Association of American Colleges and Universities

FIPSE Comprehensive Program Grant: P116B060445

Grant Dates: 10/2006-9/2009

Project Description: Shared Futures: General Education for Global Learning enabled a network of colleges and university to design and share concrete general education curricula that prepare students to face the challenges and meet the opportunities of an interdependent global community. With funding from FIPSE, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) refocused the network’s energy and resources to: 1) make general education science requirements a more central part of coherent global general education curricula, 2) use global general education to refine and assess key liberal education outcomes, and 3) illuminate the links between global learning, diversity, democracy, civic engagement, and social and ethical responsibility.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Shultz, Professor of Education and Assistant Provost for Special Projects at Arcadia University, as a result of the Shared Futures Project, faculty created a new undergraduate curriculum with a major emphasis on global learning. Concretely, this means that: 1) Arcadia students must take two courses that carry a Global Connects designation indicated that they will develop the student’s ability to explore and understand the interconnectedness of cultures, peoples, and nations around the world in social, political, and economic arenas as well as explore issues of social justice, social welfare, and economic rights within and across national boundaries, and 2) Arcadia students must participate in a Global Connections Experience and Reflection—a sustained, semester-long cross-cultural experience. These requirements can be satisfied through study abroad as well as well as through study away within the US in a setting culturally different from the one in which the student was raised. The curriculum was developed in 2006 through 2008 and began to be implemented in the fall of 2008. About 87 percent of Arcadia’s students use their passports during their first year of college. The University also pioneered a number of spring break “preview” programs that introduce freshman and transfer students to international education. Arcadia University also received funding in 2008 from the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL) to support these efforts.

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