Globalization, Global Competence and Education
By The Editors
One of the effects of globalization on higher education is (or will be) the gradual shift from the reductionist approach so in vogue now for many disciplines to a more holistic point of view. The limits of the current discipline-specific reductionist approach will be highlighted when attempting to become globally competent, as discipline-specific knowledge will need to integrate global competence concepts to ensure educational success – success measured on the basis of positive contributions to the new globalized environment as part of the workforce or other.
In his commencement address to the graduating class of 1990 at Arkansas College, David Orr suggested six principles for rethinking education – one of these principles comes from the Greek concept of paideia. He said: “The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person. Subject matter is simply the tool.” In the current digital age, where borders seem to disappear, global competence is necessary to reach mastery of one’s person.
The global competence concept was originally developed by Dr. William Hunter through rigorous research and is summarized as “Having an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others, and leveraging this gained knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.”
During the globalization process of our world, education needs to raise environmental awareness, recognize peace as a common goal, develop appreciation for cultural and social diversity, and operate within the concept of a global village. Education is expected to encourage and represent openness, inquiry, diversity, and limitless learning. The developing web of MOOCs is one of the major instruments contributing to these educational features.
Applying the different facets of the global competence concept to education, independent of the subject matter, will give education the holistic perspective that many feel has been lost. The global competence model in itself is holistic.
Feedback provided by Christi Hunter (globalcompetence.org) in a previous post points out that, within the Global Competence Model, Global Leadership Excellence defines the Open-Minded dimension as: “Being receptive to alternative possibilities, being willing to think again despite having formed an opinion, and attempting to avoid those conditions and offset those factors which limit, constrain and/or distort; having a curiosity to acquire new information from a variety of sources and perspectives.” These are all elements that apply to scientific research – and not only. As an example, students in the sciences could refer to the Open-Minded dimension to integrate the holistic approach in their educational experiences, so to better understand the scientific process while acquiring global competence.
Global competence starts by being aware, curious, and interested in learning about the world and how it works. Globally competent students understand that audiences differ on the basis of culture, geography, faith, ideology, wealth, and other factors and that they may perceive different meanings from the same information. They can effectively communicate, verbally and non-verbally, with diverse audiences. Because it is increasingly the world’s common language for commerce and communication, globally competent students in the US and elsewhere are proficient in English as well as in at least one other world language. After a study abroad experience in Italy and traveling to different countries before studying abroad definitely taught me more than I ever knew about the world that I would never imagine.Learning about and with the world occurs within and outside of school, and it is the work of a lifetime. Globally competent students are life long learners. They are able to adapt and contribute knowledge and understanding to a world that is constantly, rapidly evolving. Students everywhere deserve the opportunity to succeed in the global economy and contribute as global citizens. We must fashion a more creative and visionary educational response to the interconnected world of the 21st century, starting now.
Currently on a study abroad in Venice, Italy, global competence has never been such an eye-opening experience before. It’s not about expanding your pallet for foreign foods, picking up little bits of another language, or having to use fourteen different outlet adapters is every new country. Global competence is all about awareness. First, awareness of self. Second, awareness of surroundings. And last, being able to take both and become aware on a global perspective. Global competence is multidimensional and engulfs all aspects of life – history, culture, language, economic systems, environmental issues, global advancements, and communicating and building relations with all walks of life. The Council of Chief State School Officers together with the Asia Society describes developing global competence as investigating the world, recognizing perspectives, communicating ideas, and taking action. It’s making a contribution to aid others and ultimately yourself, because in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “When you cease to make a contribution you begin to die.”