The Age of Global Education
Darian Williams, Division 3, Graduate school #ws18e-s3d3

In an age of rapid globalization, it is crucial for university students to experience global education. We have reached a point where world events need to be evaluated and addressed through a multilayered, global lens. The ability to address things in a global fashion, of course, begins with education. Educational institutions and all of its actors, including staff, faculty, and students, need to adapt to this changing global environment. This is particularly true because globalization is multidimensional; it’s economic, sociocultural, and linguistic. All of these dimensions can and should be addressed through education first.

Something that was lacking in my own undergraduate school of Southern Utah University was a global component. Located in a small town in the Rocky Mountains of the United States, my university had roughly 8,000 students. Although the school had a handful of short-term study abroad programs, they were located in major cities of Western European countries. These programs typically lasted under three months, and the majority of students chose not to embark on them. This isn’t to suggest that education in such countries should be dismissed. However, these are “safe” places to experience from an American perspective, and can, therefore, limit growth that could occur from such an international experience.

Because education is highly systematic, it’s crucial for universities to formulate strategies for cross-cultural opportunities. Of course, the effort of students is a necessary component for cultivating global education, but students of all grades often look to their schools for advice regarding opportunities. Schools operate as primary sources for students’ future prospects. This is particularly true for students in areas that generally lack global educational opportunities. For example, the majority of university students in the U.S. don’t study abroad. On top of this, most Americans are monolingual. This leads to a clumsy lack of international capabilities.
Universities could, therefore, aim to broaden their boundaries and create partnerships with institutions in other countries. Providing a wider variety of language courses, as well as intensive language programs, could expand opportunities for potential locations to study in. In addition, lacing relevant information about different countries throughout curricula, while also advertising study abroad programs or global post-graduate opportunities, could broaden student’s minds about desirable and beneficial destinations. It is partially because my own graduate university put effort into such components of global education that I have been able to experience economic, sociocultural, and linguistic education.

I was able to go abroad for graduate school at partially because of individual willingness to seek out institutions abroad, but also because of the efforts by my graduate university. Because it makes fostering a global education a systematic priority, I was able to discover that the school was (literally) on the map. Despite being located in Japan - a country that is largely homogeneous - the university exemplifies creating a global environment in terms of education. By providing informational and financial resources, an international atmosphere, and various international student services, it has created an island of global education in a largely uniform location. For example, it provides information on foreigner-friendly off-campus housing, scholarships aimed at international students, courses in a wide variety of languages, and events for international and domestic students to mingle.

The main counterargument against global education centers around the array of differences in education between countries. As the argument goes, the inability of countries to mesh educational methods and standards is what devalues cross-cultural learning. However, I would argue that diversity in education is what makes international schooling valuable and appealing. National education used to be sufficient but is now outdated. World systems have become deeply intertwined and education is not an exception.

I moved to Japan with very little knowledge of the language and culture, and in the wake of military tensions between Japan, the U.S., and North Korea. Despite this, I knew that I would gain an invaluable education as well as social, business, and cultural skills. I have since learned firsthand both Japanese culture and language, and have become more globally aware while being able to provide a unique set of skills to my university and future employers. In a progressively connected world where students, schools, and companies interact and compete, global skills have become critical to obtain. My experience studying and working abroad has provided a sort of dynamism that was absent before, and I am now able to contribute socially and professionally with perspectives and experiences that I was previously lacking.

Receiving an education only in one’s home country has been a long-standing, universally accepted standard. However, it’s insufficient due to rapidly globalizing human societies. It is now essential for education to break out of its current restricted mold and expand to fit the changing global environment. Rather than brief study abroad programs to countries with semi-familiar cultures, I would encourage students to commit to minimum 1-year programs in completely unfamiliar areas of the globe. I would also recommend that more universities accommodate for such a system. This is what could have improved my undergraduate education, and what has certainly improved my graduate education.
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