To: IRIS/Area Study Centers
From: Maggie Hawkins
Re: Fall 2016 FIG (Globalization, World Regions and Globalizing Education)
In the Fall of 2016 the area studies centers that make up IRIS launched a new FIG: Globalization, World Regions and Globalizing Education. It comprised three courses: Anthropology 104 (Introduction to Cultural Anthropology), International Studies 101 (Introduction to International Studies), and Curriculum and Instruction 375 (Globalizing Education). In this way, first-year students with broad interests in anthropology, globalization, international studies, cultural studies, world regions and education could fulfill entry-level anthropology and international studies requirements and be immersed from different perspectives in these intersecting topics.
There were 20 students in the FIG: 18 women and 2 men. While the FIG was predominantly white, there was one student of Moroccan heritage, one of Mexican heritage, and one who is a member of the Ojibwe nation. At the beginning of the term, and of their college careers, fewer than half knew that they wanted an academic focus on education. Others were interested in international studies, particular world regions and/or languages, business, and politics.
The FIG functioned well, with a good deal of complementary among the courses. The students reported themselves happy with the FIG; they bonded well and even asked if we could continue the FIG for an additional semester. They claimed to love the instructors of all of the courses as well as their TAs.
I (Maggie Hawkins) taught the Globalizing Education course. In that course my goals for students were to:
* address themes and issues in global education, focusing largely, though not exclusively, on students who live in poverty in less developed countries;
* learn about the education of global youth in the United States;
* consider the importance, curricula, and processes of global education for all students in the United States;
* understand the regionally, socially, and culturally embedded nature of schooling, both in the United States and elsewhere;
* locate schooling within local and global economic, political, social and cultural patterns;
* reflect deeply on educational policies, environments, curricula and processes;
* be introduced to global programs and opportunities at the UW-Madison.
I divided the course into several parts. First came a deep exploration of concepts of languages, literacies, cultures, identities, and schooling. The second part focused on mobility and education globally, with particular attention to schooling in China, Mexico and Uganda. Additional classes in this part of the course addressed global educational policy and assessment, gender in education, and indigenous education. In the final part of the course we turned to domestic education, focusing on the education of immigrant and refugee youth in the US, and globalizing education for all youth through curriculum and school practices.
To the extent possible, this was experiential learning. We skyped with educational professionals, including teachers, in Uganda and Mexico, and had a panel of Chinese teachers — who are UW-Madison graduate students — come to class. We had local teachers at the primary and secondary levels share their global curricula and conducted a field trip to a local school that has phenomenal initiatives around teaching multilingual and multicultural youth. We also had Aaron Bird-Bear come to class to work with us on indigenous education, Dan Gold to introduce study abroad possibilities, and Nancy Kendall to think with us about global education policy and curricular options in Educational Policy Studies. Csanád Siklós and Nancy Heingartner spoke with us about the area studies centers. Overall students got a first-hand grounding in topics we were studying and UW-Madison global opportunities and offerings for students.
Two other areas of note. First, we had three extra-class experiences. One, as mentioned, was the half-day field trip to a local school. We also showed a film one evening at the beginning of the semester (with pizza), and another at the end, both illustrating themes from the FIG. For these we invited the instructors of the other two FIG courses and the TAs that were assigned to the FIG group from those courses, and had cross-disciplinary discussions afterwards. These were extremely powerful for the students, as they furthered larger understandings of the interrelatedness of global phenomena and they also gave them more personal access to the instructors of the other two classes (which are large lectures). Both Stephen Young and Jerome Camal are to be commended for their willingness to donate their time and expertise for these events, and for ‘thinking outside the box’ in these cross-disciplinary discussions.
One noteworthy aspect of the FIG is that the area studies centers supported hiring a TA for the Globalizing Education course. This was invaluable because: 1) The TA was from Colombia, offering an international perspective that otherwise would not have been represented in class discussions. 2) The class was interactive, with students writing reflection papers at the end of each week and having other reflective assignments- this provided an opportunity to get to know students, and track their thinking and learning, much more closely than would otherwise have been possible — it would have been unmanageable without the TA. 3) It provided training in teaching global education for the TA that would not otherwise have been possible.
In sum, the FIG was a valuable learning opportunity for students. On a personal note, it was a joy to see their intellectual growth over the course of the semester. The students were mostly white and middle-class; the majority came from Wisconsin. As they themselves noted, prior to their FIG experience most had not given much thought to
educational systems that differed from their own, nor to students whose backgrounds, experiences and lives differed from their own, and their pre-college educations did not focus on globalization, or offer opportunities to consider global lives, global others, and/or global citizenship. They spoke about diversity in their home towns, when it existed, in terms of boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The FIG expanded these initial views through its focus on mobility, culture, language and identity, through its deep exploration of others’ lives and of schooling locally and globally (and the factors that impact educational access and quality), and through opportunities to directly connect with global others and hear and see first-hand accounts of global education. Overall, many students articulated that hey had come in unaware of their own privilege in educational and life opportunities, not particularly cognizant of the needs of others who did not have their advantages, and unaware of the importance of reflecting on these issues — or even on what 21st century education might mean. By the end of the term, students, overall, were not only aware, but many voiced their commitment to be involved, and work for educational and societal change. They were excited about study abroad opportunities, more had turned their attention to education (although not all wanted to teach, some wanted to focus on policy), and one stood out for the light in her eyes as she realized that she wants to teach immigrant youth.
One student did not finish the FIG because of health issues. Of the remaining 19, 6 have chosen to volunteer in the Spring 2017 semester at the diverse primary school we visited.
It was a pleasure to watch these students gain a growing awareness of the communities, people and world around them, making connections between others’ lives and their own, and developing a sense of commitment to global change to improve educational and life opportunities and relations globally. I will be very happy to repeat this experience next Fall!