Global Learning for Global Citizenship
2016 Heiskell Award Co-Winner: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Gitta Montoto, Director, Office of Faculty & Global Affairs
At Florida International University, global learning is required education—not elective—for 21st century citizenship. Of FIU’s student population of more than 54,000, 87% are minority, 53% First Generation, and 55% financial aid dependent. FIU has made a long-term commitment to developing all students’ capacities for global citizenship—the skills and drive to solve global problems—by providing global learning to all. Global learning enables groups of students to determine relationships among their diverse perspectives and to develop equitable, sustainable solutions for the world’s interconnected human and natural communities.
Since fall 2010, FIU has implemented a two-course global learning requirement for all undergraduates as part of its Global Learning for Global Citizenship initiative. The more than 160 global learning courses that fulfill this requirement are located in nearly every academic department. Students also participate in co-curricular activities to extend and enrich classroom global learning. As the centerpiece of internationalized education at FIU, the global learning initiative engages the entire campus in collaborative efforts to analyze and address complex global problems, delivering on the University’s mission as an engaged, urban, public, minority-serving research institution.
The initiative grew out of an institution-wide effort to reinvigorate the "I" in FIU. Research had revealed an “internationalization gap”—a discrepancy between the high value stakeholders placed on FIU’s diversity and the extent to which diverse perspectives were cultivated in the classroom.
Faculty teaching face-to-face, online, and study abroad courses use active global learning strategies and authentic assessments that enable groups of students to grapple with real-world issues. Whether brainstorming approaches to overcoming healthcare obstacles in Miami or working in-country to increase sustainable access to safe water and sanitation in Burkina Faso, all global learning opportunities are designed to develop students’ global awareness, perspective, and engagement.
The program’s success is fueled by customized professional development for faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and student leaders, including in-person and online workshops and one-on-one consulting to develop global learning courses and activities. FIU has also instituted a comprehensive evaluation plan for the initiative, encompassing assessment of graduation- and course-level outcomes and program goals and methods for continuously communicating results, soliciting feedback, and implementing improvements.
Global learning courses are complemented by a robust array of activities and programs, ranging from a Global Living/Learning Community and a weekly global issue discussion series to a Global Learning Librarian and annual global learning research fellowships. Students are encouraged to take part in student-led organizations such as language and culture clubs, international alternative breaks service-learning trips, and chapters of international organizations such as Amnesty International, GlobeMed, and Students Offering Support.
Nearly 700 students are currently pursuing FIU’s Global Learning Graduation Medallion, launched in fall 2014. This honor recognizes students who take at least four global learning courses, participate in multiple co-curricular activities, and complete a signature capstone project and integrative learning reflection.