Global Education and Liberal Education

Dan Weiner passed along an essay entitled “Global Education and Liberal Education” from Peter N. Stearns, Provost at George Mason University.  It appeared in the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Liberal Education, Summer 2010, Vol. 96, No. 3.

In the essay Provost Stearns notes:

“But no effort to provide a global education can possibly succeed without a solid curricular base, which must be the focus of any discussion of the relationship between global and liberal education. Considerable attention must go to programs that serve students for whom global issues constitute a major focus, and there are clearly liberal-educational opportunities here. Because globalization itself is a multifaceted process, embracing contacts ranging from trade to culture and from the environment to health, a state-of-the-art global affairs major becomes a significantly interdisciplinary endeavor, always remembering that language training and discussion of international relations continue to have strong roles to play. A dozen or more disciplines can be (actively and) usefully engaged in shaping and staffing concentrations of this sort, which, happily, at least for the moment, also draw in sizeable numbers of interested students.”

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A Canadian Perspective

Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice Chancellor of York University, in an October 29 column “Universities Change with the Times” in the Toronto Star discussed what he sees as the most important trends in higher education:

“Evolving cultural and social environments, heightened demands for a post-secondary education, rising costs and expectations surrounding the role of universities, funding uncertainties and reluctance to accept change are some of the many obstacles facing post-secondary institutions. If Canadian universities are going to compete successfully in today’s global knowledge-based society, it is crucial they address these challenges.

At a recent conference in New York, I presented my views on the leading drivers affecting this change to the presidents of some of world’s foremost universities. In my opinion, these drivers are: internationalization, online learning, demographics, challenges to university autonomy and society engagement.”