Colleges and Universities Re-Unite to Strengthen Efforts Toward Global Citizenship Education




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Nov 12, 2015
by Adam Beeson
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Colleges and Universities Re-Unite to Strengthen Efforts Toward Global Citizenship Education

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and members of the Appalachian College Association further partnerships at inaugural Global Citizenship Summit Participants and speakers at the Global Citizenship Summit in Atlanta, GA, USA

More than 40 faculty and administrators from select Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and members of the Appalachian College Association (ACA) convened at the first annual Global Citizenship Summit to share and receive feedback on deepening global citizenship education work, expand and enhance multi-campus partnerships, and establish new collaborative program activities. The Summit was hosted by Clark Atlanta University and co-organized by Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, October 29-31, 2015. 

“Global citizenship education is a conscious and courageous commitment to the future,” Dr. Walter Fluker, Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership at Boston University School of Theology, told Summit participants. “We are not sure how we will get to where we are going, but we are prepared to make this first step together.”

The Summit, which included programs at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum as well as the Center for Civil and Human Rights, was a result of a competitive grant process organized as part of the Mellon Global Citizenship Program (M-GCP) of Salzburg Global Seminar. The M-GCP was launched in 2014 to further the innovative work that moved 36 US colleges and universities – all of which are either HBCUs or members of the ACA – toward becoming sites of global citizenship education as part of the Mellon Fellow Community Initiative.  

Focusing on the theme Sustainability and Innovation, participants in the Summit heard from world-class speakers on global citizenship education and outlined concrete next steps for the creation of the Global Education Consortium, an independent organization that will support activities and partnerships developed through the M-GCP. An undergraduate research conference organized by Lindsey Wilson College was held concurrent to the Summit at Clark Atlanta University and was an opportunity for students to engage directly in the core theme and present their own innovations and ideas. 

“Global citizenship education is the umbrella that captures various projects found across university spaces,” Dr. Ronald A. Johnson, president of Clark Atlanta University, said. “One benefit of global citizenship collaboration is that we improve our understanding of each other and how we relate to the world itself. Universities must look at mechanisms for multi-campus collaboration to prepare students to move to a place in which they are more accepting and more understanding of the dynamics that make the human community who we are and how we all fit in the context of this planet. To me, that is at the heart of global citizenship education.”

The Summit offered 2015 M-GCP grantees the opportunity to discuss the process and results of recent multi-campus programmatic activities, including the global education visiting specialist series Global Citizenship Revisited: New Approaches to Achieve Global Competencies between Ferrum College, Bennett College, and King University, along with a partnership between Florida Memorial University and Berea College on Global African Diaspora Citizenship. Dr. Bettie Starr, vice president for academic affairs at Lindsey Wilson College, described the upcoming study away incentive program Trading Spaces, a collaboration between her institution and Clark Atlanta University, as an opportunity for urban and rural students to gain new experiences and perspectives that may otherwise not be available to them.

“Global citizenship education is a vibrant and integrated part of our campus,” Starr said. “We have revised our general education requirements to include the student-learning outcome ‘engaged local and global citizenship,’ and we have started a Center for Global Citizenship on campus. When the opportunity arose to collaborate with HBCUs, we jumped on it.” 

Students benefiting from the activities of the M-GCP also had the opportunity to address the value and impact of global citizenship on their educational experiences. 

“Global citizenship education forces me to operate outside of my comfort zone,” Sederra Ross, a senior chemistry major at Clark Atlanta University, told Summit participants. “As an aspiring green chemist, global education has given me the tools to make myself a better citizen and a better person. It’s like I have superpowers.” 

Throughout the Summit, participants met in thematic issue groups to identify opportunities for future multi-campus collaboration on global citizenship education programs. The Leadership Circle, a working group of senior administrators from M-GCP partner institutions, met with M-GCP Advisory Council members to outline specific plans for a new independent consortium to facilitate ongoing collaboration as leaders in the field of global citizenship education once the current program activities end in 2017.

In addition to deepening global citizenship work across academic institutions, the Summit also addressed the need for colleges and universities to form strategic partnerships outside of academia. M-GCP Advisory Council member Dr. Yolanda Moses moderated a panel of experts at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum that included Professor Wallace Ford, founder of Fordworks LLC, and Dr. Jennie K. Lincoln, director of The Americas Program at The Carter Center.

“The first study abroad programs at universities were a choice,” Lincoln said. “Global education is no longer a choice. The world is becoming flat, and the requirement for educators is to prepare students to be able to function in that world. Developing strategic partnerships between academia and the private sector, government, and non-profit organizations is critical.”

At The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc, civil rights leader and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, encouraged Summit participants and students from the Undergraduate Research Conference to identify strategic opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration on solving the world’s most pressing issues. Fellow panelist Carlotta Arthur, program director of the Clare Boothe Luce Program at the Henry Luce Foundation, concurred, and reminded the participants both how unique and highly valuable the collaboration among the HBCU and ACA schools is.  

“The specific constellation of ACA and HBCU institutions offers a unique opportunity, through cooperation, to make ‘globalization at home’ and ‘citizenship without borders’ a powerful and tangible learning experience,” said M-GCP manager David Goldman.

Other speakers at the Global Citizenship Summit and Undergraduate Research Conference included Dr. Maghan Keita, director of the Institute for Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University; Anne Gahongayire, former Secretary General, Supreme Court, Rwanda; Deborah J. Richardson, interim CEO of The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc; and Dr. Champa Patel, director of Campaigns Programme and interim director of the South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office at Amnesty International.

More information about the Mellon Global Citizen Program can be found at the M-GCP website: