Newly published research from scholars at VCUarts Qatar and Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) on the important role internationalized higher education institutions play in shaping and transforming societies through experiential global learning, finds that Qatar Foundation’s Education City is uniquely placed to educate students for global competence, and to prepare graduates to thrive in a more interconnected world.
The findings appear in a book chapter titled “Current Understandings of Global Competency in Shaping Globally Engaged Citizens,” which was co-authored by Dr. Jacqulyn Ann Williams, Assistant Professor and Head of Teaching, Learning, and Strategic Initiatives at QF partner VCUarts Qatar, and Dr. Christine Schiwietz, Assistant Dean for Curricular and Academic Advising at QF partner GU-Q. The chapter more clearly defines the role that global competence education must play in higher education reform.
“In our globalized world, students need to be equipped with global competence. This refers to a set of skills, attitudes, experiences, and values around issues with local and global connections,” explained Dr. Schiwietz. “Education City is a visionary model and very unique across university branch campus programs. Intertwining world class faculties across disciplines into a collaborative blend of programs, courses, and exchanges offers an unparalleled mosaic for students to learn and flourish into global citizens. It allows students to work collaboratively across cultures to solve shared problems, such as climate change, access to education, and conflict resolution.”
Dr. Williams noted that while there is broad consensus of the economic and political benefits of global education, research on global competency and more specifically, intercultural maturity in international higher education contexts, is limited. “Intercultural understanding studies typically focus on study abroad programs, but this is the first of its kind for international branch campuses, or IBCs,” she said.
Their initial case study research, conducted over the course of a year and a half, surveyed administrators and faculty across three IBC institutions in Education City, GU-Q, Northwestern in Qatar, and VCUarts Qatar, to learn how educators shape the learning environment to facilitate undergraduates’ global competency and intercultural maturity.
“Our research highlighted several important programmatic and campus conditions as well as educational practices that are conducive to promoting undergraduates’ global competence and intercultural maturity that may be applicable to other institutions seeking to further integrate and operationalize global and intercultural learning as strategic forms of internationalization,” said Dr. Williams.
Findings from their study indicated that students benefited from educators’ international backgrounds and experiences, particularly their established international networks and partnerships which were leveraged to immerse students and bring them into direct contact to learn from and with culturally diverse others. As a result, “many students’ in the IBC context viewed their own diverse backgrounds and lived experiences from a position of strength,” said Dr. Williams. This is especially relevant to Qatar as the Qatar Foundation National Development Strategy includes a target of equipping all students with the knowledge and skills to contribute to society and to respect other cultures while maintaining a strong sense of their own values and identity.
The chapter appears in the book Leadership Strategies for Promoting Social Responsibility in Higher Education, edited by Enakshi Sengupta, Patrick Blessinger, and Craig Mahoney (Emerald Publishing Limited, 2020). Dr. Schiwietz’s forthcoming book, America’s Higher Education Goes Global: An Inside Look at the Georgetown Branch Campus Experience in Qatar is scheduled for release in early 2022. Future research is planned to include additional branch campuses in Qatar as well as globally to gather a more nuanced understanding of how undergraduates understand themselves within broad social, cultural, and global contexts and their development of intercultural competence.