Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 8, Number 3

Diversity Digest
Volume 8,
Number 3

Download our print issue (PDF)
Curricular Transformation
Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility
Recasting Religious Studies at Beloit College
Hybrid Student Identities: A Resource
for Global Learning
Global Education Continuum—
Four Phases
New Global Studies Degree Combines Liberal Arts and Preprofessional Disciplines
Globalizing the Curriculum
Campus-Community Involvement
Student Civic Engagement at Home
and Abroad
Looking Within to See the World
Institutional Leadership
Shared Futures? The Interconnections
of Global and U.S. Diversity
Connecting the Global and the Local: The Experience of Arcadia University
Partnership in Education for a Sustainable Future
Student Experience
Engaging Diversity on the Homogeneous Campus: The Power
of Immersion Experiences
Crossing Borders: Interdisciplinary Centers and Global Learning
Resources for Shared Futures
The Curricular Disconnect

Shared Futures? The Interconnections of Global and U.S. Diversity

By Kevin Hovland, program director of global initiatives, and Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president, both of Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives, AAC&U

In the Shared Futures initiative, we use the term “global” rather than “international.” Our research suggests that the term “international” is most often associated in the academic community with study-abroad programs, international students on campus, the study of foreign languages, and international affairs majors. The term “global,” while still evolving in use, most often applies to dynamic processes and the flows of people, cultures, labor and capital, diseases, and resources across and between borders. In these terms, a “global learning” framework seems to offer more intellectual and curricular space in which students and faculty

The Dickinson College Mosaic Semester

“The Mosaic Semester is a semester-long community study with extensive fieldwork, which engages students and faculty in an intensive, first-hand examination of the history, sociology, ethnography, and culture of a community. Students in the Mosaic Semester programs concentrate on this project throughout the semester, integrating three courses as well as an independent study for a total of four courses. The independent study is based on the fieldwork and under the direction of one of the contributing faculty. The Mosaics have been conducted locally in central Pennsylvania and abroad in Bolivia. The particular site of the study and the methodological approach varies according to the interests and expertise of the collaborating faculty who team-teach the semester.

“In 1996, the project was Ethnic and Labor Relations, Steelton, PA. It was taught by professors in American studies, English, sociology, and economics. In 1998, Latino Migrant Workers in Adams County, PA, was taught by professors in anthropology and American studies. In 2001, the project was Patagonia, Bolivia and Steelton, PA, under the direction of professors from sociology and history. In fall 2003, Adams County, PA, and Mexico was taught by professors from sociology, history, and anthropology.”

Source: www.dickinson.edu/

For more information, see Diversity Digest, vol 7, no 1-2. July 2003. www.diversityweb.org/Digest/

can explore the critical relationship between U.S. diversity and its global contexts.

Over the last half century, questions of race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, and other forms of diversity have profoundly transformed higher education. As attention to these previously neglected categories moved from the edges of the academy to its very heart, we filled gaps in our knowledge and revised our basic understanding of what we need to know. We opened new vistas on neglected subjects, illuminated new questions, and offered new perspectives in previously well-trod territory. We also reopened unresolved questions, often ignored but always present, of oppression and discrimination—not simply as topics worthy of study, but as legacies calling for redress.

Global learning and diversity education represent pathways to similar learning goals for our students: intercultural awareness, the ability to imagine and understand multiple perspectives, the willingness to engage with real-world problems, and the belief that individuals are responsible for advancing social justice. Leaders in global and diversity work have often emerged from the same—frequently marginalized—campus locations: programs for the study of women and gender, ethnicity and race, colonialism and empire, diaspora and immigration, human rights and security, environment and sustainability, and globalization and development, just to name a few. When exploring the intersections between global and U.S. diversity learning in the curriculum, however, it soon becomes evident that the two are often rivals for resources, institutional commitment, and curricular space. (See “Connecting the Global and Local: The Experience of Arcadia University” for one example.)

A forthcoming report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Liberal Arts Colleges and Global Learning, documents a curricular logjam in general education. Students are often required, for instance, to take either a course in U.S. diversity or a course in a non-Western culture. When students are required to take one course in each category, most institutions leave it up to the students to see the connections. As our thinking about diversity becomes more complex, the curricular space allotted to it grows ever more crowded. There is a danger that difference itself will become the organizing principle for this part of general education. Such a development seriously undervalues the contribution of diversity work—the deep analysis of structures of power and stratification, of patterns of domination and exclusion, of violence and agency in historical and present-day contexts. It is this type of analysis that provides a framework to bridge U.S. and global diversity in ways that allow students to see that the United States does not stand independent of the world. And it is this kind of global analysis, in turn, that allows students of U.S. diversity to recognize the larger contexts in which they can understand American racial, religious, and ethnic legacies.

As Grant Cornwell and Eve Stoddard (1999) conclude in their influential paper, Globalizing Knowledge: Connecting International and Intercultural Studies, “it is both inaccurate and insufficient to teach students about the international arena independently of their positionality as U.S. citizens or about domestic diversity and citizenship without reference to transnational responsibilities and identities.” As true as this is, melding these two ways of teaching the world is difficult. Some suggest that colleges are eager to engage in global diversity work because it is easier to educate students about deep and uncongenial difference that exists beyond our own backyard than it is to delve into questions of privilege, historic exclusions, and lasting injustice at home. Others suggest that “global citizenship” is a meaningless term, or simply a cover for American imperial designs. Such criticism needs to be understood as part of the political, intellectual, and historic realities that frame debates about how best to educate today’s students for civic engagement and social responsibility in both domestic and global contexts.


Cornwell, Grant H., and Eve W. Stoddard, 1999. Globalizing knowledge: Connecting international and intercultural studies. Washington, DC: AAC&U.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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