HBCUs Receive a Helping Hand In Preparing Students To Become Global Citizens

March 4, 2011  |  

By Brittany Hutson

In a world where our everyday lives are influenced in some way, shape or form by the governments, businesses and individuals that are beyond our borders, it’s essential that educational institutions establish the roles they are going to play in preparing students to be global citizens.

It is for this reason that the U.S. Department of Education awarded the American Council on Education a grant to collaborate with historically black colleges and universities to identify the factors that will enhance their international policies and offerings.

Recently, it was announced that seven HBCUs have been granted an opportunity by the ACE to participate in what’s being called the Creating Global Citizens: Exploring Internationalization at HBCUs Project. For two years, the chosen seven will audit their campus international activities and identify policies, programs and structures to enhance curriculum, programs and initiatives on global opportunities for students. The chosen universities include Dillard University, Howard University, Lincoln University of Missouri, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Savannah State University, Tuskegee University and Virginia State University.

According to a press release by ACE, such strategies could range from “infusing international content into academic programs to developing strategic partnerships with institutions in other countries.”

Unfortunately, many HBCUs, particularly smaller ones, do not have the resources and the infrastructure to provide many study abroad opportunities to students, according to Marybeth Gasman, an associate professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I think it is wonderful that ACE has chosen seven HBCUs to participate in its internationalization project,” she said. “HBCU students need more opportunities to travel abroad and expand their perspectives through exposure to cultures outside of the United States.”

Sakita Holley, a graduate of Howard University, says that while examining the international activities of HBCUs is a good strategy, she is concerned about whether HBCUs will be able to receive more funding for study abroad programs.

“There are plenty of qualified minority students that want to travel abroad but the low participation rates are usually linked to whether or not they can afford to go,” said Holley, who is president of the New York-based PR firm, House of Success. “To remain competitive, schools will need to figure out ways to make these opportunities available to more of their students.”

She recommends that schools incorporate a one or two week trip to a foreign country into a capstone curriculum so that every student in a particular major can graduate with international experience.

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