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    September 2009

    Global Readiness

    Virtual International Experiences Growing at ECU

    Students at ECU are able to have international experiences and develop global perspectives without leaving campus through its Global Understanding course. Global Understanding uses inexpensive internet technologies to bring students from around the world into a real-time virtual classroom. Through real time videoconference, during each class session ECU students discuss topics that include family life, cultural traditions, prejudices and stereotypes, and the meaning of life with students from 20 other countries (one country at a time). Working with their international partners ECU students write joint papers on selected topics. These experiences are critical for students since fewer than 4% of American college students are able to study abroad, figures which are mirrored in the UNC system.

    Global Understanding is taught as a social science course in Anthropology, Psychology, and International Studies. Partner countries include Algeria, Cambodia, China, Czech Republic, The Gambia, India, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Turkey, Taiwan, the UK, the US, and Venezuela, and partnerships are being developed in Brazil and Japan.

    The Global Understanding course is part of the Global Academic Initiatives project at ECU. Since its inception in 2003 the Global Academic Initiatives have grown to provide a wide variety of enriching Global experiences for ECU students. Joint classes are taught in areas as diverse as Global Health and Computer Science. Many faculty members include shared global modules in their classes and these experiences include shared folk tales with students in Peru and Russia in a Theater Arts class; shared Spanish/English language recitation sessions with students in Peru, and shared discussions of common literature readings with students in Morocco. Medical lectures are provided to students at the Medical University of Moldova, a North Carolina state partner .

    The Initiatives continue to expand as faculty members across the university are encouraged to review their courses for possible inclusion of shared content with students from around the world. Faculty who are interested in expanding the experiences of their students participate in a multi-day training workshop which is offered each semester by the Global Academic Initiatives team. Faculty members focus on the student experiences while the GAI team provides the teaching space needed and the set up and operation of the technologies used to facilitate the experiences. All of these programs are based in ECU’s Global Classroom.

    Data based assessment of these activities consistently indicates that students who have experiences in the Global Academic Initiatives programs learn not only the course information but also develop a more global perspective.

    The unique nature of providing students with essential hands-on intercultural and international experiences without having to leave home has been acclaimed nationwide. The May 8, 2009 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education reviewed the Global Understanding course, highlighting the cost-efficient and highly popular alternative to traditional study abroad programs. The program was recognized by the IIE as being an innovator in technology based global learning. Global Understanding was recognized as an exemplary program by UNC Tomorrow.

    Read more about Academic Outreach and Global Academic Initiatives at ECU here.


    For further information, please contact:

    Elmer Poe

    Associate Vice Chancellor

    Academic Outreach



    Rosina Chia

    Assistant Vice Chancellor for Global Academic Initiatives