The 2019 Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) Symposium brought together community college faculty and administrators from across California to discuss ways to prepare students for an increasingly globalized world.
“Today, more than ever, our students need to be equipped with the critical thinking, communication, socio-emotional, and language skills to work collaboratively with people in the United States and all over the world,” said Dave Dillon, a professor at Grossmont College, who is curating a textbook chapter on cultural competency for use in open educational resources.
Dave is one of 10 community college instructors who participated in the year-long EPIC Fellowship Program offered by Stanford Global Studies and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant. Throughout the year, the fellows collaborated with Stanford partners, including the Stanford Program on International Cross-Cultural Education and Lacuna, to develop unique projects focused on internationalizing academic and co-curricular programming at their home institutions.
Richard Saller, the Kleinheinz Family Professor of European Studies, opened the symposium with a keynote address on Stanford’s efforts to move beyond Eurocentrism. During his tenure as dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences from 2007-2018, Saller was instrumental in supporting the work of Stanford Global Studies and championing the importance of preparing students to be global citizens.
“It’s a real pleasure to be with you this morning to talk about what I think is one of the most important issues in higher education today,” said Saller in his opening remarks. “And that is making sure that the next generation knows something about the world beyond our borders.”
Historically a Eurocentric institution, Saller believed Stanford could not be a world-class university of the 21st century without coverage of societies and cultures outside the United States and Europe. Recognizing the increasing political and economic significance of areas like South Asia and the Middle East, he dedicated substantial resources towards expanding Stanford’s scholarship in these regions.
During his time as dean, he also emphasized the importance of foreign language instruction and religious studies; oversaw the renaming of Stanford Global Studies and strengthening of its centers; and created several faculty appointments in area studies.
As he concluded his speech, he stressed the importance of global engagement as part of the undergraduate experience in understanding modern events in the U.S. and abroad. “This has not only consequences for our students understanding the world beyond our borders, but it’s become obvious in the last couple of years that it has very serious domestic consequences as we try to rise above our own xenophobia.”
Following Saller’s opening remarks, the EPIC Fellows had the opportunity to share their individual projects. Presentations explored the process of launching a global studies associate degree for transfer, the role of educators in facilitating opportunities for cross-cultural learning, and the implementation of study abroad programs in community colleges, among other ideas.
Nancy Willet, a business instructor at the College of Marin, discussed how she helped students sharpen their cross-cultural negotiation skills by using role play to practice active listening, trust-building, and leadership. “Negotiation, particularly with a geo-centric mindset, is a highly desired soft skill, especially for business and economics students who will be working on diverse teams and globally,” she said.
Another project led by San Jose City College global studies instructor Mary Conroy examined the role of images in fostering global awareness. “My project focuses on how we can use the power of images to … encourage students to examine their own ideas and perceptions about such topics as immigration, poverty, and global health,” she explained.
The symposium concluded with a discussion about the burgeoning Community College Global Studies Educator Network, a new initiative designed to connect global studies educators at campuses across California. Started by a group of former EPIC fellows dedicated to promoting international education, the network will create a space to discuss research on global issues, best practices for incorporating global topics into the curriculum, globally-oriented initiatives, and transfer pathways to four-year institutions for global studies students.
“We hope to develop a network that serves as a resource for global studies educators within the California Community College system, the largest system of higher education in the nation, and beyond,” said former EPIC Fellow Danni Redding Lapuz, dean of the Social Science and Creative Arts Division at Skyline College, who is leading the initiative.
“We hope to leverage Stanford Global Studies’ expertise as we build capacity within our educational institutions, empowering educators to transform their teaching and learning,” she added. “Through the Global Educators Network, we envision an educational landscape in which both educators and students apply an interdisciplinary global lens to their understanding of the world.”
The Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) provides professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and community college instructors. The program is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant. Collaborators include Stanford Global Studies Division, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), Lacuna, and the Stanford Graduate School of Education’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET).