By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–IU Southeast has been accepted into Global Civic Literacy (GLC), a one-year initiative designed to help students increase their knowledge of global society and understand how global issues influence the lives of everyday citizens.
GLC is a partnership involving the American Democracy Project of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and World101, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations.
World101 is a library of free multimedia resources that provide an immersive learning experience in the area of international relations and foreign policy, helping the American public build an understanding of today’s most pressing issues and how those issues are relevant to them, preparing them to make informed choices of public officials, compete on a global stage, invest in their futures, and make a difference.
For Dr. Jean Abshire, associate professor of political science and international studies, the new project is an outgrowth and improvement of IU Southeast’s ongoing relationship with World101.
“This builds on our earlier efforts,” Abshire said.
Two years ago, IU Southeast was accepted into the very first national cohort for Global Civic Literacy, which challenged schools to bridge the gap between academic affairs and student affairs. This year, participating schools will partner to incorporate global civic literacy more deeply in their academic programming and institutional structure, then share their experiences and best practices with one another in a series of online and in-person meetings and presentations.
What will the new GLC project look like at IU Southeast?
History and international studies faculty members will incorporate global civic literacy into new learning communities, which pair classes from different disciplines to foster deeper learning. History faculty will begin using World101 modules in the “World in the 20th Century” (HIST 101) curriculum in order to give global civic literacy a standard place in the classroom, across all sections.
“We’ll also be revisiting some of the elements from our earlier proposal that either got derailed by the pandemic, such as an Expand IU Global civic literacy certificate project and a second Campus Summit that would again bring together both academic affairs and student affairs,” Abshire said.
For Abshire, the project is a good way to connect the campus with the community, and the region.
Noting that Kentuckiana already has something of a cosmopolitan consciousness–it is home to globally connected companies and a large number of refugees–Abshire observes that the overwhelming nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid succession of natural disasters associated with climate change have taken many by surprise.
“Many people weren’t ready for how easily a pandemic could sweep the world and cause such massive disruption,” Abshire said. “No one has escaped being affected in some way.”
That personal connection is what can motivate students and others to become more informed and involved, according to Abshire.
“Our knowledge of the world can help make us more agile and adaptable when facing global challenges, and our sense of global citizenship–that we are all in this together–can help us advocate for approaches that will help us save ourselves and others,” Abshire said.