Unfortunately Covid-19 still has us all grounded and unable to travel internationally still this summer so the major challenge is looking at how to increase global competency while being stuck local?
This summer has been a great chance to reflect on my own teaching and look at the curriculums I have been developing over the last 12 or so years of my career to see how I can improve it. In a typical summer I usually have at least one large international trip that takes time to prep for, and then the actual time to be able to travel. Not this year. So, instead I have been focusing on my curriculum and how I can improve it so that my students can get more out of it. One of the things that has been of a particular interest is my Global Studies (World Environmentalism) course and my Behavioral Science course. With both courses I have completely revamped them with a particular focus of adding global context and representation. On of the things that I have been especially interested in is representation. I went through and noted the case studies and even the pictures that I used in assignments, lectures, and case studies, and revamped assignments to include more parts of the world, and add pictures that more reflected the diversity of our planet.
One idea that particularly stuck with me in this process was the TED Talk by Chimanmanda Adichie on the Danger of a Single Story.. This caused me to go through my curriculum and look at how particular groups or areas were portrayed. One thing I saw was that I really only highlighted areas of concern for some regions (like Sub-Saharan Africa) so it was very possible that students who were in my class might come away with a very narrow thinking of the region. So I went back through into my curriculum and added case studies that more reflected regions in positive manners as well. So I did not remove the representations of the struggles, because those are important as well, but I wanted to show that every region has struggles, but there are successes as well that need to be highlighted. This actually connects to a wider discussion right now in the United States about the role of Critical Race Theory in classes and whether or not it should be taught. To not teach about topics, like race, from multiple perspectives is a disservice to students. Students must be made aware of not only the accomplishments of a country, but also the wrongdoings. This is not meant to get students to hate a particular country or group of people, rather it is to get students to recognize the importance of perspective (time and space) to see how to better improve.
So, while I have not been able to travel much this summer, instead I have been able to devote my time to re-developing my curriculum to incorporate more potential for the inclusion of multiple perspectives at multiple scales. An important piece of students' development of global citizens is the appreciation for the experience of others. Something that will now be more purposeful in my classes through the inclusion of multiple narratives.