February 2015, Volume 19, Number 1

Features

 

No Man Is an Island

Ready to add new dimensions to the academic experience at MDC, 20 MDC faculty and administrators recently traveled to Austria to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar, a cross-disciplinary colloquium fostering the exchange of ideas on how global citizenship can be more effectively incorporated into college curricula and policies.

“Simply put, global citizenship is about developing an international discourse based on the idea that we are all part of a global community,” said seminar participant Dr. Alejandro Angee, who teaches sociology at Wolfson Campus. “To do that we need to address education holistically rather than teaching separate disciplines in an insular way.”

The historic setting of Schloss Leopoldskron on the shores of a pristine Alpine lake offered the perfect backdrop for stimulating conversations. Among the topics participants from MDC and other colleges discussed were ways to address new global needs in a shrinking world.

Focal points of the talks included transnational interconnectedness, geopolitical changes, economic development, environmental impacts and sociocultural diversity around the world.

A New Twist

While MDC has been providing an opportunity for students and faculty to travel to Austria to participate in the Salzburg Global Seminar for 10 years, this is the first year that a faculty and administrator group has participated.

Prof. Kristen Rosen González, who teaches English and communications at Kendall Campus, noted that Miami Dade College is building on its long tradition of being at the forefront of ways to teach global citizenship.

“MDC’s award-winning Learning Outcomes are specifically geared toward global thinking,” she said. “In a sense, what we are teaching is empathy, and the concept of being a global citizen, of thinking of others, has to filter through every single course we teach.” With the Learning Outcomes, this altruistic attitude develops in students as they demonstrate knowledge of diverse cultures and create strategies to fulfill civic and social responsibilities.

Similar Goals

Proud of the strong leadership role that MDC plays in this field and noting common themes across colleges, Angee said, “By talking to the other groups at the seminar, we learned that there are a lot of schools moving in this direction. They aren’t all as well organized, but we are all looking for ways to get optimal outcomes.”

Among MDC’s success stories that inspired others at the seminar are the numerous global education programs it has created over the years, including the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy, The Honors College, the Earth Ethics Institute, the Confucius Institute, The Center for Writing & Literature, MDC Live Arts, the Fulbright Gateway Orientation Program and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives, to name just a few.

Setting the Example

“It is really interesting, because we are at the forefront here at MDC,” said Prof. John Frazier, who teaches art history at Kendall Campus. “We didn’t just talk to global thinkers. We also met with chemists, psychologists and administrators. These are the people you need to get on board if you want new ideas brought into the classroom.”

Moving forward, the MDC Salzburg participants plan to continue developing the College’s multidisciplinary programs and also create an annual Salzburg Global Seminar in Miami.


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