Global Competence Revisited

The interconnected world requires our nation to nurture citizens, workers and leaders who actually know something about the world -- its cultures, customs, languages, and how the world’s economic, environmental and social systems work. Taking a closer look at the concept of global competence may help illustrate how nationalism or protectionism may be counter-productive. On our path to problem solving or cultural and economic advancement, working with the rest of the world will prove to be more sensible. A global view of the big picture may just be what everyone needs to acquire or perfect.

Global competence starts with awareness, curiosity, and interest in learning about the world. While investigating the world, globally competent citizens identify, collect, and analyze credible information from a variety of local, national and international sources, including those in multiple languages. They can connect the local to the global on important questions and issues. They can weigh and integrate evidence to create a coherent response that considers multiple perspectives and draws defensible conclusions.

Global competence encompasses the ability to recognize each of us has a particular perspective, and that others may or may not share the same viewpoint. One should attempt to articulate and explain others’ standpoints, and further identify influences on these perceptions, including how different environments or access to knowledge, technology, and resources can affect people's ideologies. By comparing and contrasting one’s perspective with others, one should be able to integrate ideas to construct a well-rounded outlook.

Globally competent citizens understand that people differ on the basis of culture, geography, faith, ideology, financial condition, and other factors, and that they may perceive different meanings from the same information. They understand how ideas should be communicated through diverse media, including through respectful online social networking and technology. They strive to interpret information as objectively as they can.

From learning about the world to making a difference in the world takes actions and innovations. Alone or with others, globally competent citizens can envision and weigh options on evidence and insight; they can assess their potential impact, taking into account varied perspectives and potential consequences of others; and they show courage to act and reflect on their actions.

Global competence also requires the ability to understand prevailing world conditions, issues, and trends through an interdisciplinary lens, in order to understand the interconnectedness of the issue and its broad themes as well as subtle nuances. So, let’s understand how the relative balance of power between societies and cultures has significant short-and long-term consequences. Let’s be life-long learners.

This President’s Day, let’s do our homework:

What are our founding fathers and leaders’ teachings?

What are the principles that govern our country?

Is immigration beneficial or detrimental to our society?

Should people of particular origins be banned from traveling to our country?

Is the Keystone Pipeline beneficial or detrimental to our economy, and to our environment?

Global Competence entails asking important questions, as well as conducting thorough examination and research before answering them. Keeping in mind and always considering: someone else may form a completely different perspective. Only through informed dialog and in keeping an open mind can we really be considered Globally Competent Citizens.

Before you have your answers, do more homework -- think hard and think again.

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