Academically Speaking

In an interdisciplinary academic program, Global Scholars are required to take six credits together, including the online freshman Core course The Global Challenge, Freshman Seminar and an independent study (sophomores and juniors can waive The Global Challenge and Freshman Seminar classes if they have already taken them).

The Global Challenge course uses the benefits of distance learning to provide students with tools and perspectives for confronting issues in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. As they investigate challenges to humankind, such as environmental degradation, modern warfare and deadly infectious diseases, students interact with experts around the globe as well as classmates and faculty members via the Internet.

Freshman Seminar is a one-credit offering designed to help students make a successful transition to University life and academic studies. The course covers such topics as academic support, human diversity, wellness, self-defense and health-related issues.

Global Scholar Laura Righter adds, “A prerequisite is a subscription to The New York Times. We must be able to discuss at length articles of particular interest.”

On Their Own

A two-credit independent study is required for all Global Scholars and is coordinated through the School of History, Political and International Studies. “It calls for the students to conduct intensive research in a global context. At the same time, students learn the process of research in a seminar-type learning experience,” says associate dean of students Jonell Sanchez.

Helen Brudner, associate director, School of History, Political and International Studies, and professor of history and political science, Metropolitan Campus, teaches a section of independent study. “We designed the course so students could gain an understanding of the pros and cons of globalization.” She says the students are engaged in research projects related to global issues, such as AIDS and the use of children as soldiers. “The Global Scholars are good students who have a strong interest in global affairs.”

Global Scholar Louise Lynch says the independent study course teaches students to “look at a problem from all sides and then determine the best course of action [to address it].” Such training, she adds, “will assist me in looking at problems, calculating all perspectives, loopholes, positives and negatives. Then I can find a solution as quickly, efficiently and as fairly as I can.”

Additionally, students must participate in a minimum of seven co-curricular activities per semester both on and off campus, such as trips to museums, visits to the United Nations and Washington, D.C., and meetings with international leaders. These activities aim to be educational, fun and exciting and complement the academic studies undertaken. “The program is awesome,” says Lynch. “I have attended speeches by the ambassadors from Argentina and Jordan. I toured the United Nations and received an environmental briefing.”

“It’s a lot of work,” the freshman adds. “You have to make sure you’re on top of things and be ready to work. But you’re putting your energy into something that interests you, so it’s worth it.”

Laura Righter is researching women in Saudi Arabia as her independent study. She had the opportunity to have dinner with the Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations and pose questions about the role of women in the Middle East. “We discussed and compared the treatment of women in Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, and he explained that he did not agree with the strict treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.” Righter’s interest in the role of women in Saudi Arabia stems from her reading of The Princess Trilogy, by Jean Sasson. “I e-mailed the author and conducted an interview with her while she was in Saudi Arabia. She was very enthusiastic and has promised to come to FDU in the future,” Righter says.

Venturing Abroad

A final component of the program is a one-credit experiential learning course, an optional study-abroad experience. The first trip was held this January as Sanchez and Judy Manton, a faculty member in the Core program, led eight students on an up-close and in-depth look at South Africa over the course of two weeks. (The trip also was offered to other FDU students.)

Sanchez, who had visited the country five times previously, says the students enjoyed a great learning experience while becoming immersed in the culture, life and society of this rapidly developing nation. “They saw that different people share similar feelings about life. Ultimately, such experiences give them a better appreciation of the interconnectedness of the world.”

He adds that the major goal of the trip was to study the impact of Apartheid and its implications on society. Highlights included visits to the University of Stellenbosch (north of Cape Town), South Kaap College in Oudtshoorn, Sivuyile College in Guguletu and Vista University in Port Elizabeth, where students attended a lecture on civil society, politics and education in South Africa. Students also toured Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope, the Addo Elephant National Game Reserve and Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was kept prisoner). Students were assigned daily readings in South African newspapers as well as Mandela’s autobiography.

Sanchez says that students explored the diversity of the country. For example, they traveled to distinctive ethnic communities. Also, in the same day they visited the wealthy Cape Peninsula they also journeyed to less affluent townships. The idea was to give the students multiple experiences and allow them to see “two polar opposites of economic classes,” Sanchez explains. “The students see and form their own conclusions about why one racial group is at one end of the economic spectrum and another is at the other end.”

“It was an eye-opening experience,” says Dora Argueta. “Our tour guide and driver were extremely knowledgeable. Not only did they take us to different sites, but they were able to explain Apartheid and its repercussions.”

The students bonded with a number of people in South Africa and the experience “changed individuals, not only the students,” says Sanchez. “Our bus driver, a native of South Africa, joined our group and visited museums for the first time in his life. This is a person who had never been able to see the museums in his own country. The group just meshed, and the bonds these students formed are transformative.”

Kenneth Malagiere found “lifelong friends. We learned so much about their lives, pre- and post-Apartheid. Each day was a new learning experience.”

One impression the students gained was the sense that South Africa was developing into a unified nation. Malagiere says, “It is clear that South Africa is a nation of overwhelming beauty, strong resolve and great hope.”

Sanchez planned the trip to include experiences that would facilitate such lessons. “South Africa was a country predicted to have massive bloodshed. Remarkably, it did not. We asked the students: What was different? How was it different? What can we learn? The students witnessed a transformation of a society and saw people growing as a nation.”

Sanchez hopes the South African experience will broaden students’ perspectives and help give them the ability “to feel they can go anywhere in the world as global citizens.”

Rick Isquith, executive director for global partnerships, also points out that the travel ingredient may inspire students toward more journeys abroad. “I want them to get others excited about such learning opportunities and help spread that excitement.”

Future travel destinations may include Mexico, Puerto Rico, Morocco, England, Italy and South Africa/Namibia.

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