The issue of global education and how it has been approached at the system level has been a concern of the Academic Senate for some time. This article will attempt to put those issues in perspective, at least from my point of view.
The best piece of work on this topic is a recently released report, Looking to the Future: Report on California Community College International and Global Education Programs, written by Rosalind Latiner Raby, longtime coordinator of international education for the Los Angeles Community College District. The report points out that 87 of the 91 responding colleges had at least one program in this area. The programs and activities can generally be placed in 8 categories:
Faculty/Staff Exchange in which jobs are exchanged for a limited period,
International Development to provide education and training to other countries,
International Economic Development preparing U.S. business for global trade,
International Students coming to our colleges to learn,
International Studies, degree programs in careers with international focus,
Virtual Education providing online courses available worldwide,
Internationalizing Curricula in which international themes are infused in many courses, and
Study Abroad, an opportunity for our students to study in other countries.
Some of these programs are very common: 90% of colleges reported having International Students, 56% had Study Abroad, and 44% had Faculty Exchanges. The most frequent degrees offered are International Business (26%) and International Studies (11%). Infusion of international themes into the curriculum is very common as well. The most common types of courses with specific units on internationalism are ESL (93%) and Foreign Languages (76%). One of the ED>Net economic development initiatives directly focuses on helping U.S. business deal with international trade.
The value of giving our students an international perspective is clear. Our students are generally quite insular in their view of the world, a conclusion that is supported by the recent Carnegie Foundation report, Reinventing Undergraduate Education. As with Multicultural Education, which gives our students comparisons among ways of life of groups within our own country, International Education broadens the perspectives of our students and can be a springboard for an understanding and tolerance that is sorely needed in this country.
The problem that I have is with the Global Education portion of this equation, those programs in which we assist our own companies with doing business overseas or in which we assist foreign businesses in learning what American industry has to offer. Here I think we are straying from our primary mission to educate the residents of California. And I have a problem with the use of this state's precious education dollars for activities that so directly benefit individual businesses-particularly those in foreign countries. In my opinion, these types of activities should be confined to contract education in which the full costs-both direct and indirect-are covered by the businesses which benefit. Until the proposals that I see coming from Sacramento meet these criteria, I cannot support them.
Currently, a Board of Governors grant is supporting the work of the International/Global Education Network Task Force, chaired by Brice Harris, chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, and staffed by Juan Cruz of the Chancellor's Office. Our own Executive Committee members Dennis Smith and Mark Snowhite have been liaisons to this group. Those of you who would like to know more about this issue can contact Juan Cruz at (916) 327-2987. Copies of Rosalind Raby's Looking to the Future report can be obtained by contacting her at rabyrl [at] aol.com.