Connecting community colleges with global resources

The North Carolina Global Distinction Program connects community college faculty and students with global resources that are available at Carolina.

Diana Scott and Shodeah Kelly smile
Carolina students Diana Scott (left) and Shodeah Kelly (right) participated in the North Carolina Global Distinction Program as community college students. Photo by Charlotte Eure.

Shodeah Kelly was a Davidson County Community College student who had never left the United States when she joined the North Carolina Global Distinction Program. The program helped her develop skills and sensitivities that have started her on the path to becoming a global citizen. Kelly is now a second-year transfer student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Diana Scott also transferred to Carolina after she participated in the Global Distinction Program at Central Piedmont Community College, and the program resonated with her, too. She wants to pursue a master’s degree in social work, and she says the Global Distinction Program will help prepare her for that kind of career.

Being culturally sensitive and being aware of cultures and religions and races other than your own is extremely important,” said Scott. “In a career that’s very client-oriented, there are going to be clients who are different than me, and I’m going to have to understand where they’re coming from culturally, or even if I don’t understand [their culture], at least be sensitive to it.”

The North Carolina Global Distinction Program is a partnership between World View, a public service program at UNC-Chapel Hill, and community colleges across the state. World View’s mission is to help K-12 and community college educators prepare students to study and work in a globalized world. The Global Distinction Program furthers that mission by connecting community college faculty and students with global resources available at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Specifically, we’re looking to globalize the curriculum and increase faculty and student involvement in global issues, activities and dialogue,” said World View associate director Neil Bolick, who leads the Global Distinction Program.

The program has two primary goals: prepare students to work in a global economy and help them transfer to and succeed in universities that increasingly emphasize global studies.

World View collaborates with faculty, staff and a number of units at UNC-Chapel Hill to help community colleges incorporate global learning opportunities into their curricula. Community college faculty members can arrange research visits to Carolina, where they create global modules or individual units within a course to make the course more global.

“All of the instructors who have been involved have said their students love the curriculum changes,” Bolick said. “They’re much more engaged. They feel that having this global content in their courses makes the courses much more relevant.”

A Wider Benefit

Globally intensive courses are open to all students, meaning anyone, not just Global Distinction students, can take them. In fall 2016, more than 2,500 students at Pitt Community College took a globalized course.

“We’re pleased that this program delivers benefits to such a wide community throughout the state,” said Charlé LaMonica, director of World View.

Students in the program gain global experience by studying abroad or participating in a domestic intercultural experience, such as volunteering at global nongovernmental organizations, and complete a capstone presentation at the end of the program.

The students in the Global Distinction Program are also required to participate in intercultural activities, such as attending festivals and lectures or visiting museums, and dialogue. While participating in the program, Scott attended a Greek festival, an Indian festival and a conference on cultural awareness in business, and visited a museum of British ceramics.

World View has been working with community colleges for nearly 14 years, but the NC Global Distinction Program is still relatively new. Davidson County Community College was the first to implement it three years ago. Now 14 community colleges across the state participate.

“Global Distinction colleges are existing World View partners who wanted to take it to a deeper level, who wanted to offer a structure in their colleges where their students could take a delineated program and end up graduating with Global Distinction on their transcript,” Bolick said

Beyond College

The Global Distinction Program also prepares students for careers after they graduate.

“Our state is already heavily involved in global business. Our population and workforce are becoming more international every year,” Bolick said. “Both business and government leaders stress the need for citizens who can work with and communicate with people from other cultures, and this is going to be a key to our economic success going forward.”

For Kelly, the Global Distinction Program gave her the experiences and knowledge to become a global citizen.

“I’d never had any global experience, and I’d never traveled far from home. I was closed off from the world,” Kelly said. “I really didn’t understand global issues or global policies. The Global Distinction Program helped me understand, or at least be on a path to understanding, international issues.”