George Mason Law School

College to participate in Shared Futures initiative

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October 25, 2010

10:27 PM

Students from across the United States could soon benefit from the College of William and Mary’s focus on service.

In a press release issued Monday, the Association of American Colleges and Universities announced the College as one of 32 American institutions of higher learning chosen to participate in “General Education for a Global Century.” The competitive process, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, consists of curriculum design and faculty development, and is part of AACU’s Shared Futures initiative.

“Increasingly, in their mission statements and strategic plans, colleges and universities promise that their graduates will develop the knowledge, skills and values necessary to act as responsible and productive global citizens in an interconnected and interdependent world,” AACU Director of Global Learning and Curricular Change Kevin Hovland said. “Yet, in most cases, general education curricular designs have not kept pace with the rhetoric. These selected institutions will all be working together to create clear and creative pathways — horizontally and vertically — through which students can connect their learning and achieve essential global learning outcomes.”

The Shared Futures Project focuses on four main goals — to set global learning outcomes for all students, to create curricula suitable for global education institutions of all kinds, to assist faculty with developing courses that focus on global issues and to refine rubrics to assess global learning.

“The AACU Project is an invaluable resource,” Dean of Arts and Sciences Carl Strikwerda said in a press release. “The College of William and Mary already is a leader in international studies and civic engagement. The Shared Futures Initiative gives us an opportunity to learn more about how to bring these two strengths together to educate our students.”

The project chose the selected colleges and universities based on their use of innovation within traditional models of education. Other selected institutions include Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Maryland–College Park, the University of North Carolina–Charlotte and Virginia Tech University.

“Many of these schools have already made significant progress in reimagining general education for a global century and, in this project, they will be able to test new curricular models, assess global learning outcomes and share insights with each other and with the larger higher education community,” Hovland said.

Members of the College’s project team include Dean for Educational Policy Teresa Longo, Dean for Undergraduate Studies Sue Peterson, chemistry professor Carey Bagdassarian, history professor Tuska Benes, art professor Elizabeth Mead, government professor Christine Nemacheck and biology professor John Swaddle.

According to Longo, who will serve as team leader, the College’s past experiences in education research, combined with current efforts in the education field make it an ideal participant in the collaboration.

“We already offer innovative courses and study abroad programs,” she said in a press release. “We would like to share what we have and gather ideas from our partner schools on exciting interdisciplinary ways to give students a solid general education that is also a pathway towards understanding a more complex global civilization. We hope our collaborative efforts will contribute in meaningful ways to the larger campus conversation on the undergraduate curriculum.”

Teams from the participating institutions will spend fall 2010 and spring 2011 developing plans to strengthen ties between global educational goals and actual outcomes. They will also examine global learning opportunities within their own institutions. The teams will identify common areas of concern in preparation for a summer institute in 2011.

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