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Cornell University

Why is it important to bring an international focus to my teaching?

Cornell Students Planting Trees on an Ecuadorian Mountain Slope

Photo credit Jamieson Johnson

"Cornell students work alongside Ecuadorian community members to plant 1,000 trees on a deforested slope" Full Article

We live in a global world, and our students need exposure to their role in contributing to a future where all people are able to access the resources they need to lead healthy productive lives in their respective contexts.

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What do faculty who incorporate a global focus into their teaching commonly share an interest in?

The complex problems of our times spill across borders. Earth’s changing climate, issues of food and water security, patterns of migration and dislocation, violence and unrest continue to create difficult, interconnected problems and challenges. Globalization—the system of interconnected economies and trade—its effect on nations, regions, and cultures, subcultures, ethnic groups, on the environment, and the very transnational nature of the contemporary world, demands globally literate problem solvers, innovators, and collaborators, individuals who are educated about the world, our human histories and legacies, and who can work effectively with others to innovate, create, invent, and create positive change.

Additionally, our campus is increasingly more global and diverse, with more international students and faculty and new and deepening international partnerships and offices. Course and campus internationalization is a needed response to our times, and internationalization of the curriculum is a way to intentionally prepare students to be effective and appropriate in different cultural contexts by supporting increased cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills.

Our students will be among those seeking solutions to the world’s greatest problems using the knowledge and skills they learn in our classrooms, indoors and outdoors, in Ithaca and off-campus. We must prepare students to work collaboratively across disciplines and across lines of difference, to investigate with open minds, to suspend judgment and tolerate ambiguity, to engage others collaboratively, to be critically reflective and culturally responsive, and to question assumptions and be prepared to take responsible, informed action.

Global learning opportunities, designed with intention and care, prepare students to respond responsibly, thoughtfully, and creatively to our increasingly interconnected world.

Faculty who incorporate a global focus into their teaching commonly share an interest in:

  • Considering disciplinary content in a global context
  • Considering the particular and the universal, the local and the global
  • Bringing comparative or transnational perspectives into their teaching
  • Bringing an international focus to the classroom, recognizing that students hail from all over the world and will go out across the globe to lead their lives
  • Reflecting on the intersection between one’s own worldview and identities, and personal meaningful international learning experiences to better mentor and support student learning
  • Cultivating a practice of critical reflection and lifelong learning in relation to oneself and others as cultural beings
  • Creating ethical and engaged international partnerships and learning opportunities for students
  Cornell University