Thinking and acting globally about education

By

Carole Basile

Carole Basile is dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University

Carole Basile, dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University

Dean Carole Basile

Most of us have a generalized understanding that something called globalization has been happening for several decades (or centuries, depending on your historical yardstick), and that it involves the acceleration of the movement of people, capital, goods and ideas around the world.

So what does it mean for a college of education to think and act globally? For Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, it means operating on three broad fronts.

First, in alignment with our college’s mission to create knowledge and mobilize people, we are facilitating the movement and exchange of educators and education ideas around the world.

Second, through our work in Global Learning Metrics, our researchers are exploring how to think and act more effectively and innovatively about generating better educational access and outcomes on a global scale.

Third, we are taking a leadership role in thinking about the global education workforce and, specifically, how redesigning that workforce can lead to better educational, economic and social outcomes for learners and, ultimately, societies.

Exchange of people and ideas

One of the core functions of a college of education is to produce knowledge through scholarship that is global both in its collection of data and in its aspirations for impact. The roster of MLFTC scholars who have met and are meeting this challenge is long. It includes Alfredo Artiles, David Berliner, Michelene Chi, Sam DiGangi, Gustavo Fischman, Elizabeth Gee, James Gee, Steve Graham, Karen Harris, Kathleen Puckett, Peter Rillero, Iveta Silova, Maria Teresa Tatto and others.

We are committed to maintaining a thriving community of scholars who pursue use-inspired research throughout the world and whose influence on scholarship, policy and practice continues to expand globally.

The Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education at MLFTC engages with people, institutions and ideas globally to address issues of educational quality and equity. Through a variety of initiatives, CASGE strives to develop and sustain collaborative networks across geographic, cultural and disciplinary boundaries in order to facilitate innovations that improve education.

As part of the Fulbright Distinguished Program for International Teachers, MLFTC brought a cohort of 18 primary and secondary school teachers from 16 cities in eight countries for a semester-long program to observe, pursue individual or group projects, take courses for professional development and share their expertise with U.S. colleagues. Other CASGE initiatives have involved a group of 52 teacher leaders from Saudi Arabia who participated in English language instruction, professional development and a school immersion program. Our second cohort from Saudi Arabia includes 43 teachers and 17 school leaders. We’ve hosted leadership exchanges for Brazilian public-school principals. And, since 2012, MLFTC has hosted fellows through the International Leaders in Education Program, which brings outstanding secondary school teachers from around the globe to our college to further develop expertise in their subject areas, enhance their teaching skills and increase their knowledge about the United States.

The ASU Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is a comprehensive scholarship initiative that educates and prepares young people, particularly from Africa, to lead change and have a positive social influence in their communities. It will support 270 Mastercard Foundation Scholars over a 10-year period.

Additionally, we continue to develop study-abroad programs for our own undergraduate and graduate students so they can broaden their cultural exposure and deepen their human experience as they move through their lives and careers as educators.

And we’re launching our online Master of Global Education degree, designed to prepare professionals to identify, analyze and address contemporary problems that cross cultures and disciplines, utilizing social science methods within an interdisciplinary framework.

Through these and other activities, including a number of internationally focused sponsored research projects, we are increasing the number and strengthening the quality of relationships and interactions that will be required for us to address pressing educational challenges and opportunities on a global scale.

Global learning metrics

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of 17 ambitious sustainable development goals for the year 2030. Included among the goals is SDG4, focusing on quality education, a category that contains a number of targets and aspirations. In response, education scholars around the world are addressing provocative theoretical and practical questions about how to measure progress towards SDG4.

CASGE hosted the inaugural symposium of the Comparative International Education Society in 2017 and a follow-up international symposium in 2018, including a series of provocations, discussions and arguments about global learning metrics. Are they possible? Are they even desirable? How should we think about cultural context when assessing education experiences and outcomes in radically different environments? In a series of working papers, MLFTC faculty and others have carried these discussions forward.

Iveta Silova, director of CASGE, says, “With a bold vision of delinking education from the exclusive logic of economic growth, the international expert group has been working to situate education within the broader and more complex context of planetary challenges we face, including environmental, health and sociocultural concerns among others. This international collaborative initiative provides a new platform for multiple stakeholders — researchers, policymakers, professionals and the broader education community — to share ideas, stimulate dialogue, foster collaboration and generate new knowledge in the area of global learning metrics as a catalyst for reimagining education policies and practices for more sustainable futures.”

The global education workforce

MLFTC is taking a leadership role in the international conversation about what an effective global education workforce should look like. This work is part of the college’s strategic, intellectual and operational commitment to redesigning the education workforce.

MLFTC is collaborating with the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (the Education Commission), a global initiative encouraging greater progress on SDG4 that is chaired by The UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. I serve on the high-level steering committee of the Education Commission’s Education Workforce Initiative, and a number of MLFTC scholars have collaborated on an Education Commission report scheduled to be released in September. The report will address how governments can harness the human capital of the education workforce as a whole — including teachers, school leaders, support personnel and district or state officials — to ensure quality, inclusive education. It will review the latest evidence on workforce reform and draw on lessons from other sectors to rethink how we design, train and develop the education workforce.

The current draft of the executive summary of the report contains the following call to action:

“Education systems face the challenge of attracting and retaining an effective education workforce while meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student population and keeping up with global trends, including rapidly advancing technological innovations. Unfortunately, the design of the education workforce in many countries stems from the industrial age of mass production. Now systems are charged with delivering quality improvement and inclusion, a mandate that requires different core capabilities and changes in workforce practices and behavior.”

Why is our college doing all of this? Because we think we have to. Because we think a world-class college of education is obliged to engage the world. Because, while the vectors and shape of globalization will change, the fact of it will not cease. Because, while any individual’s education begins as a personal story, education is a collective story that affects every community and, ultimately, our shared planet.