Conference promotes global citizenship

Wausau Daily Herald | January 21, 2008
By Shenandoah Sowash

STEVENS POINT -- As America continues to struggle with overseas outsourcing and increasing global competition, professors at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are working to arm graduates with the skills needed to become global citizens.

Robert McGough, a senior education specialist, researcher and program manager with the World Bank, encourages professors to take seriously the need to give students a global education.

"Some see globalization as a destructive influence, as a bad thing ... at this time in history, globalization is here to stay, and we must learn to live with it," McGough told instructors Thursday during the 12th annual UWSP Teaching Conference, "Teaching with a Global Perspective: Preparing Students to be Global Citizens."

Globalization affects everyone, even the World Bank, which now outsources a majority of its accounting work to New Delhi, McGough said.

"Countries such as India and China are destined to be superpowers, or at least major players," McGough said.

Drawing on the need for sustainability, economic development and self-sufficiency, McGough offered a strong case for educating college students in the ways of the world.

"Over time, you'll find more college graduates going overseas for work. ... These other countries are going to be major sources of employment," McGough said.

Organized by the Office of Academic Affairs, the one-day conference featured workshops on cross-cultural teaching and learning, internationalizing the curriculum, developing interdisciplinary approaches to global education, incorporating non-Western themes in the classroom and developing global citizenship through local service-learning activities.

"Faculty have left this conference in the past and rewritten their entire syllabi," said David Ozsvath, a geology professor.

Maureen Giblin of the Tutoring Learning Center asked McGough what skills recent graduates are missing.

"Language is one aspect most graduates don't have," he said. "American graduates are often naive and immature; they have an inability to understand how to communicate."

Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to teach students to be globally aware, McGough said.

"The United States has had a good run, using 50 percent of the world's resources. But the world won't let us do that anymore," McGough said.