Global Education: A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Published in:

A National Symposium

November 21–22, 2014

University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
San Juan, Puerto Rico


Although the world is more connected than ever and competition is global, political strife continues to bubble up not only in the Middle East but also in Eastern Europe and Africa. Global education can provide students with opportunities to examine these troubled waters of global problems and conflicts. To truly transform teaching and learning for the global era, educators must seize this moment to help students realize the power of “collective intelligence” by using study abroad experiences, global media networks, and practical classroom study.

This panel highlights several curriculum initiatives that address the global imperative for higher education. One initiative offers effective strategies for promoting and supporting international experiences for undergraduate students. A second initiative focuses on teaching business and production dynamics for developing film and television content for the global marketplace. A third initiative focuses on educational technology to promote global education. Lastly, a case study demonstrates how global education facilitates students’ awareness of and emotional engagement with the issue of ethnic cleansing at the global level.

Promoting and Supporting International Experiences for Undergraduate Students: The Significance of the Study Abroad Departmental Liaison (Alice E. Stephens)

College students often say that what appeals to them about studying abroad is the opportunity to be independent and explore the unknown. College faculty often advocate study abroad programs to their students as opportunities to become citizens of the world by gaining useful international experience and an appreciation of cultural differences in an increasingly globally connected world. Employers value cultural adaptability, wider worldviews, deeper understanding of international affairs and global issues, flexibility, and a greater tolerance for ambiguity—qualities often acquired while studying abroad and essential for the globally competent employee. As a result, the study abroad program at many institutions of higher education has become an integral part of their internationalization efforts.

Ultimately, college students, the faculty who teach them, and the future employers who hire them may simply desire students to gain awareness of a wider world and a sense of their role in it through exposure to diversity.

Discussed here is a study abroad program at one HBCU. The program is based on the belief that real education begins with the student’s introduction into the global community where he or she has the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss differences in order to acquire a better understanding of and greater appreciation for how other people in the world live. The program provided students with the opportunity to discover and learn in nontraditional settings, and had as its goals cultural awareness and social and intellectual enhancement. Students who participate in the life-changing endeavor of studying abroad are not only enriched, but also enrich others with whom they come into contact. An intended outcome for these students is for them to be inspired to take positive actions in the future for the betterment of humanity.

Departmental study abroad liaisons were identified and tasked with the job of facilitating and smoothing the way for students who desired this international study abroad experience. The liaisons’ responsibilities included but were not limited to: becoming familiar with study abroad providers and their programs; marketing the program to students; assisting students with the application process, deadlines, costs, scholarships, passports, and travel preparation; encouraging students to form cultural connections while abroad; and academic advising regarding pre- and post-trip course planning. Returning students were invited to participate in department-sponsored study abroad forums to share their experiences with their interested and curious peers. These activities inevitably generated excitement about studying abroad and ignited a desire in many students to have such experiences for themselves.

A Media Seminar Capstone Course (April Lundy)

The Media Seminar capstone course provides students with the opportunity to apply media theories, concepts and techniques to practical experience in moving image media production. Within the curriculum of this course, I include the exploration of new modes of reaching moving image media audiences, specifically television and film audiences. As a media creator and producer, I understand that it is imperative for today’s media creators to become more than familiar with the business of media exhibition and distribution models. Smart and social media have become viable distribution platforms for media programming and content. More and more independently produced content is produced to meet the demands of new modes of exhibition and distribution, and independent media-makers are devising ways to sidestep the traditional approaches to distribution.

One new mode of distribution covered in this media seminar course is the hybrid or “new world” distribution model. This new model allows media-makers and filmmakers overall control of the exhibition and distribution of their content and a larger share of revenues from the licensing and sales of their content. Many of these types of “direct sale” deals are with third-party DVD distributors, television networks, educational distributors and online outlets, which include Netflix, Amazon Prime and Redbox. Retaining sales is a key element with this hybrid distribution model. Nurturing, maintaining and growing an audience are also key elements within this model.

The Internet has grown to become the entertainment outlet of choice. The changing relationship between audiences and media creators has empowered audiences. The Internet is a powerful tool to inspire audience engagement and participation. Audience members now want to be more involved with media rather than passive consumers of entertainment.

In Media Seminar, students are charged with developing and producing a final moving image production project in which they are required to consider who the audience is for their project, how that audience spends their money and time, as well as what new behaviors are emerging from audiences of the 21st century. Each student must also consider building a global audience for their production project.

The Internet is a powerful tool for identifying a core audience and building a global audience. Students and media creators can then build relationships with those in control of social media pages and platforms.

Students in Media Seminar are introduced to new ways of consuming media, including mobile media, which is the new frontier of media content consumption. Mobile media delivers new and revolutionary media content to a global audience in a much more streamlined fashion than traditional exhibition and distribution of television content. Recent trends include an alliance between the MTV and CNN networks with software developers to provide content specifically tailored for cell phones.

Listening Locally, Reaching Globally: Technology Promoting Global education For Students (Andrew Will)

Receiving messages through various mass communications has always been beneficial to the mass audience. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio have in common the goal to inform and entertain, offering an array of content from political, social, and cultural perspectives. Although these media can offer messages from a spectrum of international sources, the content is derived most often from a domestic or local source. A local farmer in Kansas, for instance, can tune in to his or her local television station to see if precipitation is in the local forecast but can also find out the economic situation of Japan. Although a television viewer can gather a wealth of knowledge from his or her local station, other viewers living in another part of the country or the world cannot access this local content. This person will need to rely on his or her own local broadcast facility.

In mass media education, students—especially those studying the radio industry—have suffered in a similar fashion. In the past, radio messages for the most part have been transmitted and received via minimal delivery systems, such as low-powered FM or even sub-carrier transmissions shared with other media entities. Today’s student, however, benefits greatly from radio messages traveling far and wide. If you haven’t guessed it, this is accomplished via Internet radio, which emerged in the late 1990s and has become a worldwide phenomenon. It is a hit among the younger millennial audience, who can be seen wearing colorful headphones to stream their favorite tunes. One big challenge for professors today is how to engage these students using non-traditional methods.

Internet radio as well as audio streaming and podcasting are great tools for reaching today’s student. Internet radio instruction can be performed on either a large or small scale. Student radio stations can distribute messages to a global audience via Internet streaming or satellite transmission. With heavy marketing and promotional strategies, a university in western Maine can attract interested future students from Jamaica, who may listen to the reggae music streamed on its station’s website or iPhone app. On a smaller scale, students can create online accounts with audio streaming providers such as SoundCloud or Mixcloud, which offer low-cost or free services to account holders. Students benefit from such Internet streaming services by sharing their recorded radio projects and events with audiences around the world. This technology can be used by not only mass media and communication departments, but also other disciplines. A professor in English or chemistry can record an entire lecture on his or her smartphone and upload the audio content to share with the class as a podcast. Instructors can also collaborate with the school’s student radio station to broadcast course-related announcements, such as class cancellations.

Genocide in Rwanda: A Case Study (Rosalee Martin)

Global education can facilitate students’ awareness of and emotional engagement with the issue of ethnic cleansing on the global level. Studying genocide in the case of Rwanda provides students with a framework for examining life and death issues relating to the horrific eradication of ethnic groups from a historic and gender perspective. After analyzing Rwanda’s genocide, students are able to explain what genocide is; explain key events in Rwanda’s history; explain the relationship between the Tutsis and the Hutus; explain the role of the international community in the Rwandan genocide; tell the story of Imaculee, a victim of Rwanda’s genocide; explore gender roles during the genocide; and identify actions that can be taken to stop genocide. During this process, students also share reactions to genocide on an emotional and intellectual level.

Students meet the above objectives by first coming up with a working definition of genocide. They briefly review several countries where genocide occurs; conduct an in-depth study of Rwanda, including the role of European nations and the US in its genocide; read the book Left to Tell, written by a female Rwandan who survived the genocide; and view pictures and videos of genocide. Students also develop a Google Map depicting the people and related events of countries that experienced genocide. Google Maps is a powerful tool that allows students to mark countries on a map with close-ups of particular places. Pictures and videos can be attached to the map as well. So that students access their affective domain, key questions are raised about emotional reactions to the personal impact of genocide.

The case study of Imaculee triggers an emotional response from students to a Tutsi middle-class college-aged young woman who experienced genocide, and was left to tell. In her book—titled Left to Tell—she describes how hiding in the bathroom of a Hutu minister with 7 other women for 91 days saved her. On a regular basis she feared she would be discovered and cringed whenever she heard her name called by machete-wielding killers. Her story was one of hope as well: she shares how she found God and learned to depend on Him. After Imaculee found out that her mother and two of her three brothers had been killed, she opened her heart to forgive their killers. Students’ responses to Imaculee forgiving those who killed her family—who cut open her brother’s head, and placed the body out in public for further mutilation—yield raw emotions about their own actions in similar situations.

The richness of Rwanda as a case study also stimulates discussion of gender and genocide, providing an opportunity to acknowledge that men and women did not experience the same outcomes. The long-term impacts of genocide are many and affect future generations and societal structures both locally and globally.


Global education emphasizes the unity and interdependence of human society, develops a sense of self and appreciation for cultural diversity, affirms social justice and human rights, and inspires actions to make possible a sustainable future.

Participation in study abroad, media networks, and case analysis enables students to develop cross-cultural understanding while addressing global issues, synthesizing information from multiple cultures, building on existing knowledge, and creating new knowledge.

Collectively these global education initiatives demonstrate how internationalizing the curriculum can enhance higher education by providing experiential learning, which helps students recognize their role in solving global issues and making the world a better place.


American University Washington College of Law, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. “Rwanda Commemoration Project: Genocide In Our Time.” Accessed 2014.

Artman, Jason. “The Advantages of Internet Radio.” eHow. Accessed 2014.

Ilibagiza, Immaculee. 2006. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Carlsbad: Hay House, Inc.

Jones, Adam. 2002. “Gender and Genocide in Rwanda.” Journal of Genocide Research 4(1): 65-94.

Robinson, Alex. 2014. “Rwandan Woman Tells Story of Gender Genocide.” Times Ledger, March 21.

Tillman, Martin. 2013. “Effective Marketing of Your Story Abroad Experience to Employers.”, February 4.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Preventing Genocide.” Accessed 2014.

Go to the table of contents for:
Spring 2015: The Global Imperative for Higher Education