NAU poised to lead in global learning domain

A little background
In 2007, the Strategic Planning Council led about 500 members of the university community to prepare Passport to Global Learning, Discovery, and Engagement, a document outlining the future direction of NAU for the next five years.

Global engagement was identified as one of seven strategic goals for the university. This spurred the formation of a Task Force on Global Education, formed in spring 2008, and charged by President John Haeger and Provost Liz Grobsmith to develop recommendations that would both transform NAU into a global campus and prepare students to become globally competent graduates.

A Global Learning subcommittee was established and recommendations being made now to incorporate global learning into NAU’s curriculum are the result of two years of the subcommittee’s hard work.

On Jan. 19, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution to move forward on a global learning initiative.

Northern Arizona University is charting new territory in its quest to graduate not only students who are well-educated, but students prepared to be leaders in the global arena of the 21st century.

After almost two years of gathering input from faculty workshops, campus discussions and meetings with the Academic Chairs Council and important university constituents, NAU’s Faculty Senate voted on Jan. 19 to adopt recommendations that will engage all students in meaningful global learning experiences in the NAU curriculum.

While other universities have begun to emphasize the value of global learning in higher education mostly with a focus on global engagement, NAU will be a pioneer in bundling global engagement together with sustainability and diversity and infusing these objectives into the curriculum.

“Every department will be able to explore how to infuse global learning in their respective disciplines using the themes embraced and in the manner most appropriate and effective,” said Harvey Charles, vice provost for international education and subcommittee member. “Not all faculty members will need to address all three themes in one class. Each department will ensure that the themes are distributed throughout the coursework.”

A common misconception is that global learning is the same as study abroad. Although study abroad programs constitute one option available for a global learning experience, the initiative seeks to weave global engagement, sustainability and diversity into the fabric of the NAU experience.

Advocates of global learning point to the NAU student chapter of Engineers without Borders as a model of the type of transformative learning fostered through intentional engagement with global learning. View this Inside NAU clip of a five-day hands-on workshop that provided technical, medical and cultural training to students preparing for a trip to Ghana.

The new initiative also is an example of how NAU can enhance the quality of higher education even in a time of budget constraints. In determining how to add global engagement to curriculum, departments will have the opportunity to reevaluate and discern how existing resources can be shared better across the university.

“Students in the music department may team up with the biology department which will challenge them to examine ideas they normally would not be exposed to in the music department. And vice versa,” said Blase Scarnati, director of the University First Year Seminar Program. “It’s about learning at a deeper level.”

The passage by the Faculty Senate of the recommendations proposed by the Global Learning Subcommittee was the first step in making the global learning initiative a reality.

For information, contact Harvey Charles or Blase Scarnati. Read more about global learning here.