Campus Summit drives global civic literacy

25th August 2020

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–“What happens abroad doesn’t stay abroad.”

That was the message of keynote speaker Charles Hopkins, director of education and learning at the Council on Foreign Relations, delivered earlier this week at the first Campus Summit on Global Civic Literacy.

Hopkins addressed over 65 faculty and staff members keen to share their experiences of living, teaching and learning in a global community.

The summit grew out of the World 101: Global Civic Literacy Initiative, IU Southeast’s contribution to the Global Civic Literacy Pilot Initiative, a collaboration of the American Democracy Project of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Council on Foreign Relations.

The World 101 project is designed to help students increase their knowledge of our global society and understand how global issues influence the lives of everyday citizens.

IU Southeast is one of just 10 campuses from around the U.S. selected to participate in the pilot.

Following Hopkins’ keynote, numerous IU Southeast faculty and staff members lent their perspectives on global literacy through field-specific presentations in breakout sessions.

These sessions approached the topic from a wide array of viewpoints, offering practical examples of bringing the world to the classroom and to extracurricular activities in areas not generally associated with international relations or political science: biology, fine arts, communication, education.

The summit also brought together presenters from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, connecting themes across the campus and cementing the link between global awareness and practical aspects of college life, such as international student admissions and career planning.

“When collaboration occurs between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, it not only provides a greater understanding among faculty and staff, but it also builds upon the nurturing environment we aim to create for our students, who benefit from a richer and deeper collegiate experience,” said Amanda Stonecipher, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student affairs.

Dr. Jean Abshire, associate professor of political science and international studies, and co-leader of the summit, also sees a tremendous win from cross-campus conversations.

“This summit provides concrete tools and practices from the Council on Foreign Relations and, importantly, from people on our campus who are teaching global literacy – but from not the typical disciplines – with the hope that we can spark ideas, innovation, conversation, and ideally collaboration for how people across the campus can engage in more global learning,” Abshire said.

For Abshire, global learning is an essential part of preparing students to succeed in a global economy, and to contribute their knowledge and expertise to meeting challenges that are truly global in nature, such as climate change or pandemics.

Abshire underlined the timeliness of the summit in her opening remarks, noting the novel coronavirus had spawned a new awareness of the interconnectedness of the global community.

“It was easy for some people in ‘The Before Times’ to glide along and perhaps not realize just how interconnected our world is,” Abshire said. “The reality is that our daily lives are intensely integrated in the world, most obviously through supply chains that bring us invaluable tools like our phones and other devices or more affordable clothing and food, and now the pandemic, which has touched the life of almost every person on this planet.”

In fact, the very fact that the summit was virtual only underscored the topic, with Covid as the proverbial elephant in the Zoom.

“Being more aware of the world around us is essential to protecting ourselves and making sure that we as a society thrive in this globally interconnected world,” Abshire said.

Homepage photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

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