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What Does a Globalized Campus Look Like?

By Adam Weinberg, President, Denison University | Published: November 13, 2018

Globalization will play itself out differently from college campus to college campus, but there are fundamental principles and priorities that can and should drive the work across all campuses. This is especially important as colleges and universities attract students who are interested in pursuing a global career path or who have already been exposed to world languages and cultures in a variety of ways in their K–12 schools and community settings.

At Denison University, we're globalizing our campus. Here's how.

Denison students learn globally through study abroad, in classrooms that bring global context to learning, and via lateral learning with international students on campus.

The principles are as follows:

  • Be global. This starts with recruiting a broad mix of students, faculty and staff to our campus. It also entails global courses across the curriculum, and not just clumped in certain academic departments with certain faculty and in certain courses. And we need to take a hard look at every part of campus life, from community-service opportunities to the content of our alumni magazines and the exhibitions that are brought to our museums.  
  • To be global really means global. Too much globalization is focused narrowly on certain countries. We need to examine everything from study abroad, to our international student recruitment strategies, to the courses we teach. Do our global efforts really represent the vision for a global campus? Do our students only study in certain countries? Do we ignore some parts of the world when we recruit students and faculty?
  • The harder work is integrating global components. It is one thing to call ourselves global, another to embrace globalization as a core value. Do a wide range of students take global courses and/or study abroad? Do we have a campus culture in which every student is seeking and working toward creating friendships with peers who grew up in different countries? I suspect most of us could take a hard look at orientation programs and the first semester of the college experience and find ways to encourage more cross-cultural interactions and friendships within our incoming class.  
  • Nothing is better than spending time abroad, but we also need to be open to new models. 
    • Domestic Study Away. Within 200 miles of most of our campuses are major cities. For Denison, Columbus is just 25 miles down the road. In Columbus, there is a large and growing Somali population and an emerging Middle Eastern community as well. Another example of domestic study away is the U.S. southern border. Spending time in places like El Paso can add tremendously to our students’ global understanding.  
    • The Role of Technology. Linked courses, for example, can bring our students together with peers from other places to which they cannot or will not travel. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the potential that merging technology with innovative pedagogies presents to expand and enrich global education in the liberal arts setting.  
    • Residence Halls. For many of our students, moving into a first-year residence hall will be their first experience living in a diverse neighborhood. We can do more to use residence halls to help students develop cross-cultural global values, skills and habits.

The impact of this work is crucial.  

  • Across the professions, cross-cultural competencies and other global attributes are growing in importance. From medical professionals who are working with more diverse patient populations, to businesses that are expanding into global markets, to managers who have to align and focus diverse teams, the needs for cross-cultural and other global attributes will only continue to grow over time. Additionally, the range of skills, values and habits that students acquire through global experiences, such as adaptability, creative problem solving, and thinking across categories and boundaries will only matter more in the emerging economy.
  • Our civic futures—locally, regionally and globally—will depend upon citizens who understand issues as global and complex, and who see difference as a source of strength for complex problem-solving. Most of the issues we are grappling with entail what political scientists call wicked problems. These are global in scope and require citizens who can think in global ways. Wicked problems also require students to work across difference and to be able to connect disparate ideas into new ways of thinking.
  • Being globally literate, confident and engaged opens up endless possibilities to add meaning to one’s lifeThese include the ability to travel, to form a wide array of friendships, to expand the movies we watch, books we read, and even politicians we follow.

A longer version of this post can be found at linkedin.com/pulse/globalizing-liberal-arts-adam-weinberg/

About the Author

A headshot of Dr. Adam Weinberg

Adam Weinberg joined Denison University as its 20th president on July 1, 2013, bringing to Denison a breadth of experience with the liberal arts and global education. He was drawn to Denison by its innovative faculty and motivated students; its momentum on the landscape of higher education; and its academic rigor, scholarly research, civic engagement and steadfast commitment to the liberal arts. He partnered with the Denison community to create a five-year strategic plan, which was initiated in 2015. Priorities include expanding the curriculum; implementing a game-changing new model for career exploration; a focus on co-curricular work in innovation, diversity and wellness; enriching faculty scholarship and mentorship of students; and increasing the college’s visibility. 

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