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
(2005)

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
Resources
Crossing Borders: Interdisciplinary Centers and Global Learning
Resources for Shared Futures
Research
The Curricular Disconnect
 

Connecting the Global and the Local: The Experience of Arcadia University

By Norah D. Peters-Davis, dean of undergraduate studies and faculty development; Jeffrey Shultz, associate dean for internationalization;
and Anna Wagner, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, all of Arcadia University

During the past fifteen years, Arcadia University (formerly Beaver College) has made significant strides in internationalizing its campus and has been recognized specifically for accomplishing this with limited resources. However, it has become clear to faculty and administrators that focusing discretionary time and funds on internationalization has come at the expense of domestic multicultural issues.

Since 1988, internationalizing the campus has become a top priority for the president and the senior administrative staff. In the 1992-93 academic year, a new mission statement was approved that begins by asserting that “Arcadia University prepares students for life in a rapidly changing global society.”

Curricular and cocurricular efforts, hiring patterns, and the allocation of internal resources clearly reflect this commitment. The university’s general education requirements now include two specific elements related to internationalization: a required “Global Justice” course and an international study requirement, fulfilled by either study abroad or a course with significant international content. Arcadia University currently has a vice president who serves as the director of the Center for Education Abroad, an associate dean for internationalization, and a director of international services. In addition, faculty development funds have been earmarked for internationalizing the curriculum on the home campus. Finally, a new major in international studies was adopted this fall.

The New Americans

The New Americans is a documentary miniseries that follows a diverse group of immigrants and refugees as they learn what it means to become new Americans in the twenty-first century. Filmmakers accompany a Palestinian bride from a West Bank village to the Chicago suburbs, two Los Angeles Dodgers prospects from the Dominican Republic, a Mexican meatpacker crossing the border to reunite with his family in Kansas, two Nigerian refugee families as they escape persecution, and an Indian couple who live through the dot-com boom and bust.

For more information, visit the PBS Web site: www.pbs.org/independentlens/
newamericans/
.

Active Voice

Active Voice is a team of strategic communication specialists who put powerful media to work for personal and institutional change in communities, workplaces, and campuses across America. Through practical guides, hands-on workshops, stimulating events, and key partnerships nationwide, Active Voice moves people from thought to action.

For more information, visit www.activevoice.net/new_americans.html.

Globalizing Knowledge: Connecting International and Intercultural Studies
By Grant H. Cornwell and Eve W. Stoddard (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 1999)

In recent decades, we have had separate movements to reform curricula both by “internationalizing” them and by recognizing the diversity that characterizes the United States. But, on most campuses, the study of the rest of the world and the study of “America” have developed in almost complete independence of each other. This paper argues that these movements are concerned with many of the same issues, and it makes a strong case for their intersection in our goals for student learning and programs.

Please visit www.aacu.org/publications or call 800-297-3775 for further information.

The London and Scotland Preview program, through which first-year students in good academic standing have the opportunity to travel to the UK during spring break for a nominal fee, has been a groundbreaking success. Arcadia also offers short-term study-abroad opportunities through the academic departments. The First-Year Study-Abroad Experience in London and Stirling, Scotland, allows between forty and sixty first-semester students to begin their Arcadia education abroad, accompanied by a faculty member from the home campus. And a range of other study-abroad options are available through the Center for Education Abroad.

In contrast, domestic multicultural issues receive far less attention and funding. Multicultural staffing is housed in student affairs and includes, among others, an assistant dean for multiculturalism and an assistant programming director, whose focus is multicultural events for the campus. Second-year students at Arcadia have a general education requirement entitled “Pluralism in the United States.” However, even this one course can be displaced by the higher institutional priority on internationalization. Students who study abroad may substitute a course taken abroad for a general education requirement, and they often choose to substitute that course for the American pluralism course.

Recognizing the need to find ways to equalize funding, address each set of issues individually, and help students understand the interconnections between local and global diversity, a team from Arcadia attended the 2002 Diversity and Learning conference, which had as its theme “Education for a World Lived in Common.” It was there that faculty and administrators began to explore the ways in which the international and the multicultural could be connected so that they complement and inform each other. In particular, seeing the documentary The New Americans led the team to think about the diasporic movements of peoples around the world in relation to the diversity of the United States. Segments of The New Americans were shown on campus, facilitated by the educational and advocacy group Active Voice. The president charged a subcommittee of the planning council with recasting Arcadia’s ten-year plan with a nod to interculturalization, a term that combines international and multicultural concerns and is loosely based on the work of Cornwell and Stoddard (1999).

Unfortunately, blending the terms led to confusion and to a continuing emphasis on the international. To counter that, Arcadia has now begun to help students learn both to make sense of the local in the context of the global and to analyze the global from a local perspective, highlighting each separately in some instances, while linking them in others. The university’s distinguished speaker series and its first-year summer reading provide two offerings each, one based in international issues and one based in domestic multicultural issues. American Sign Language is now offered as an option for the language requirement within the renamed modern languages department. That department has also launched a languages-across-the-curriculum initiative. One of the most interesting course projects to emerge involves education students working with Spanish texts for young children, doing fieldwork in a Puerto Rican community in Philadelphia, and planning a trip to Puerto Rico in the spring. This spring those students who participated in the First-Year Study-Abroad Experience are enrolled in a reentry tutorial specifically devoted to understanding the connections between the global and the local and to connecting their experiences in London and Scotland with their lives in the U.S.

While Arcadia is far from resolving how best to deal with these two sets of issues, the university’s efforts to first combine and then to disentangle them have led to a better understanding of the profound interdependencies of the globe as well as the distinctly local contexts that shape people and societies. If we are truly going to prepare students for “life in a rapidly changing global society,” we need a curriculum that will challenge them to understand both.

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