Global Learning: Aligning Student Learning Outcomes with Study Abroad

May 21, 2010 By: Kevin Hovland, Director, Global Learning and Curricular Change, Association of American Colleges and Universities Download pdf

Many campus leaders, including both faculty members and administrators, are more intentionally aligning the goals of undergraduate education with the realities of an interdependent and interconnected world. Some are motivated by a fear of U.S. competitive failure vis-a-vis other educational systems; others are driven by the sense that the problems we face today are qualitatively different—more complex, more interdisciplinary, and more directly tied to understanding of other nations and cultures. Some describe their efforts as "internationalizing" higher education; others talk about making college more "global." Most view study (or education) abroad as an important arena in which students can develop new perspectives, test new identities, and make new commitments to the world. Multiple stakeholders in global/international education will find it useful to situate their various efforts within the broader context of a student learning outcomes movement in higher education.

Global learning is very closely connected to liberal education and is a potential bridge from study abroad to multiple sites of campus innovation because it focuses on student learning outcomes and provides a shared vocabulary around which to build alliances. For those who work in the fields of international education and study abroad, the national emergence of global learning as a way to organize work across campus has the potential to transform undergraduate education by synthesizing and magnifying multiple movements focusing on student learning.

Shared Futures

Shared Futures Global Learning and Social Responsibility is a multi-project, national initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Through Shared Futures projects, AAC&U supports the academy in its vital role of expanding knowledge about the world's peoples and problems and developing individuals who will advance equity and justice both at home and abroad.

Shared Futures: General Education for Global Learning, a recent curriculum and faculty development project in the initiative, combines the best theory and practice of general education reform with the transformative promise of global content. The project was generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).

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