NC Global Distinction Program Connects Community Colleges with Global Resources
For Shodeah Kelly, a student at Davidson County Community College who had never left the United States, joining the North Carolina Global Distinction Program helped develop sensitivities and skills that have started her on the path to becoming a global citizen. Kelly is now a second-year transfer student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Diana Scott also transferred to UNC after participating in the Global Distinction Program at Central Piedmont Community College, and the program resonated with her too. Scott wants to pursue a master’s degree in social work after graduation, and she says the program will help prepare her for that kind of career. “Being culturally sensitive and being aware of cultures and religions and races other than your own is extremely important,” said Scott. “In a career that’s very client-oriented, there are going to be clients who are different than me, and I’m going to have to understand where they’re coming from culturally, or even if I don’t understand [their culture], at least be sensitive to it.”
Kelly and Scott participated in the North Carolina Global Distinction Program, a partnership between World View, a public service program at UNC-Chapel Hill, and community colleges across the state. World View’s mission is to help K-12 and community college educators prepare students to study and work in a globalized world. The Global Distinction Program furthers that mission by connecting community college faculty and students with global resources that are available at UNC.
“Specifically, we’re looking to globalize the curriculum and increase faculty and student involvement in global issues, activities and dialogue,” said World View associate director Neil Bolick, who leads the Global Distinction Program. “Two primary goals of the program are to prepare students to work in a global economy, and to help them transfer to and succeed in universities that increasingly emphasize global studies.”
World View collaborates with faculty, staff and a number of units at UNC-Chapel Hill, including the area studies centers and University Library, to help community colleges incorporate global learning opportunities into their curricula. Community college faculty members can arrange research visits to UNC, where they create global modules, or individual units within a course to make the course more global. The approach has been hugely successful in the classroom for both teachers and students.
“All of the instructors who have been involved have said their students love the curriculum changes,” Bolick said. “They’re much more engaged. They feel that having this global content in their courses makes the courses much more relevant.”
A Wider Benefit
Even students who aren’t in the Global Distinction Program have benefited from the program. Globally intensive courses are open to all students, meaning anyone, not just Global Distinction students, can take them. In fall 2016, more than 2,500 students at Pitt Community College took a globalized course. “We’re pleased that this program delivers benefits to such a wide community throughout the state,” said Charlé LaMonica, director of World View.
Students gain global experience by studying abroad or participating in a domestic intercultural experience, such as working with local immigrant communities or volunteering at global nongovernmental organizations, and complete a capstone presentation at the end of the program.
In addition to the globally intensive courses, students in the Global Distinction Program are required to participate in intercultural activities and dialogue. Activities can include anything from attending festivals and lectures to watching films and visiting museums. While participating in the program at Central Piedmont Community College, Scott attended a Greek festival, an Indian festival and a conference on cultural awareness in business, and visited a museum of British ceramics.
“[The program] gave me a lot of opportunities to know what’s going on culturally in Charlotte,” Scott said.
World View has been working with community colleges for nearly 14 years, but the NC Global Distinction Program is still relatively new, with Davidson County Community College being the first to implement it three years ago. The college had already started a globalized learning program on its own, so when World View extended the invitation to be a part of its statewide consortium, it was a natural fit. Now there are 14 participating community colleges across the state.
“We work with all the community colleges in the state in our programs,” Bolick said. “Global Distinction colleges are existing World View partners who wanted to take it to a deeper level, who wanted to offer a structure in their colleges where their students could take a delineated program and end up graduating with Global Distinction on their transcript.”
Those who graduate with the Global Distinction designation on their transcript elevate their college and job applications and come out better prepared for the transition to four-year universities.
“Without this opportunity,” said Kelly, “I don’t think I would have been prepared to even discuss anything outside the United States, so this has really helped me become a global citizen and become more aware of my surroundings.”
The Global Distinction Program also prepares students to enter the workforce when they graduate, introducing them to what has become an increasingly global economy.
“Our state is already heavily involved in global business. Our population and workforce is becoming more international every year,” Bolick said. “Both business and government leaders stress the need for citizens that can work with and communicate with people from other cultures, and that this is going to be a key to our economic success going forward.”
For Kelly, who had never been out of the country, the Global Distinction Program gave her the experience and knowledge to become a global citizen.
“I’d never had any global experience, and I’d never traveled far from home. I was closed off from the world,” Kelly said. “I really didn’t understand global issues or global policies. The Global Distinction Program helped me understand, or at least be on a path to understanding, international issues.”
January 23, 2023