The Case for Global Competence

We live in the midst of a shifting global reality: Our communities, classrooms, and workplaces are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before.

Demographics: Communities across the U.S. are becoming more diverse as the number of U.S. residents under age 15 from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds continues to grow significantly.

Exchange of Information: Every minute, millions of emails are sent, thousands of tweets are shared, and hundreds of websites are created. The pace at which information is created, shared, and accessed continues to impact our lives in significant ways.

Workforce Development: Nearly 50% of revenue generated by S&P 500 companies comes from firms located outside the U.S. As this trend intensifies, “college and career readiness” will be defined by the ability to collaborate across diverse cultures, work with resourcefulness and creativity in ambiguous and changing conditions, and think critically about complex challenges.

Over the last few decades, the world and the context in which students learn have changed dramatically. Yet, the U.S. educational system has not adapted, young people are being left unprepared for the global reality beyond the classroom, and global learning is still reserved for only a few high-achieving students or a select few districts. While this approach may have served a more bifurcated world of decades ago, the immediacy of global issues such as climate change, global unemployment, terrorism, and food security no longer permits that global learning be reserved for the few. Too often global learning has been narrowly confined to “learn-to-earn” curriculum organized solely around global economic competition rather than a humanistic orientation towards living collaboratively, justly, and sustainably on a fragile planet. To truly transform the K-12 education system to meet the needs and challenges of 21st-century citizenship and leadership, these attitudes must shift and the fundamental way we define and support teaching and learning for global competence must change.