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SGS partners with community colleges to integrate global topics into the curricula

EPIC fellows presented their projects at the 2022 EPIC Symposium in May at Stanford University.

How can we teach students about international relations using a social media platform? How can students experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a city abroad without stepping foot on a plane?

These are some of the imaginative questions explored by the nine community college instructors who participated in the Stanford Global Studies EPIC fellowship program. Over the past year, the fellows worked closely with Stanford partners, including the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, to creatively introduce global themes into their courses.

The fellows represented eight schools across California, and their projects spanned a wide range of disciplines, from business and public affairs to media studies and art history.

“Global awareness leads to an understanding of all elements of the world we inhabit. Teaching students about the world can empower them to make more informed decisions in all types of situations,” said Chris McBride, an English and humanities professor at the College of Marin, whose project looked at ways to use international film to globalize humanities courses.

Reflecting on his experience as a fellow, McBride said he most enjoyed attending monthly meetings with his cohort as they developed their projects. “Having the opportunity to work with Stanford faculty and EPIC peers led to insights that applied to many areas of the classroom,” he explained.

“I loved the opportunity to sink into scholarship on globalizing curriculum for an entire year,” added Holly Piscopo, a professor of history at Sacramento City College. “If I had to pick my favorite part of the EPIC fellowship, it would have to be the opportunity to work in a community of colleagues who are passionate about globalizing the community college experience. Especially after the isolation of the COVID years, it was energizing to build an intentional community.”

Piscopo’s project focused on connecting her students to Stanford’s Life in Quarantine archive. “My students acted as historians and online content creators, recording the COVID years as a global historical event,” she said. “As part of the assignment, students connected their local interviews to the global scene, demonstrating exposure to varied cultures and world views.”

Piscopo and the other fellows had an opportunity to present their final projects at the annual EPIC Symposium in May, which was attended by more than 60 people who discussed the challenges and opportunities of internationalizing curricula at community colleges.

Human rights attorney Nicholas Opiyo, executive director of Chapter Four Uganda, delivered a keynote address at the symposium. In his speech, he emphasized the importance of learning about the world beyond the United States and discussed his journey from growing up in a small village in northern Uganda to becoming an international human rights lawyer. “I have taught in several American schools and classes,” he shared. “It’s amazing how many American students in very prestigious universities have so little knowledge about the world. And I thought it was important to remind them, through their educators, that the rest of the world matters too.”

The symposium concluded with a panel about the Global Educators Network (GEN). Established in 2020, GEN is led by former EPIC participants and is open to community college instructors worldwide. It aims to empower community college educators to engage with global themes and learning resources, as well as international dialog, research, and teaching strategies.

“I love coming [to the EPIC symposium] because it’s a chance to step out, hear about the wonderful projects, and get reinvigorated,” said GEN Executive Director Danni Redding Lapuz, dean of social science and creative arts at Skyline College. “And that’s also what GEN is about. It brings us together … and brings us back to the thing that we’re all passionate about.”

Watch videos from the 2022 EPIC symposium here, and view the projects by this year’s EPIC fellows.

The Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) provides professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and community college instructors and professors and is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant. Collaborators include the Stanford Global Studies Division, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), and the Stanford Graduate School of Education's Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET).