To successfully navigate their way in the world, students need to have a solid understanding that all major issues facing the world today are global issues. Developments in health, technology, the environment, the economy, communication, security, and political structures around the world affect our individual daily lives. Conversely, our individual actions can have a global impact.
Higher education has the potential to help students experience this interrelatedness as an exciting opportunity rather than a cause for concern. Students who are given the knowledge and skills for critical discernment can have the confidence to be globally engaged, and have the potential to become respectful, compassionate, and effective problem solvers.
Global competence is crucially important in both the personal and professional lives of our graduates. Employers are searching for applicants whose intercultural skills will help their companies be productive, both through effective teamwork with diverse coworkers and through direct contact with overseas collaborators and competitors.
Study abroad is uniquely able to provide a transformative understanding of other cultures and their systems by immersing students in an unfamiliar context. Participants learn that they can successfully take the risk of leaving their comfort zone, be resourceful in gathering information, and take effective action without fully resolving the ambiguity of a highly complex situation. In short, an academically based international experience can provide students with the knowledge and skills to be active, informed, and interculturally competent citizens in the global community.