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Voices of the Global Community


Yung-Hwa Anna Chow, Washington State University

AnnaChow.jpgCentral to the formation of a democracy is the challenge of producing responsible citizens and life-long learners who can critically think and analyze issues that are vital to our society, a practice that results from a commitment to critical pedagogy. Educators such as Paulo Freire believed that education plays an important role in building a democratic society and that through critical pedagogy students are empowered to effect social change. As our world becomes a global community, the significance of producing globally-competent citizens is turning into a hot topic on university and college campuses. As academic advisors move away from a “service”-oriented role to that of a “teacher” (2006), we also need to fulfill our duty in the name of critical pedagogy. As stated in the Preamble of the NACADA Concept of Academic Advising,

Academic advising is integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of higher education. Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community. Academic advising engages students beyond their own world views, while acknowledging their individual characteristics, values, and motivations as they enter, move through, and exit the institutions (2006).

With the global turn and the ever-increasing demands to produce informed and critically-aware citizens, the guiding question for twenty-first century advisors must be: how do we, as academic advisors, connect the need for producing responsible citizens and life-long learners to our global community? I propose that there are at least three ways to fulfill that goal at the local, national, and international levels: 1) Students can utilize lectures, plays, and other public events offered on their campuses; 2) The National Student Exchange Program offers a wide variety of opportunities in various locales and for cultural perspectives within the U.S.; 3) The study abroad program offers international development of cross-cultural awareness in a global society. The role of advisors, then, is to utilize these tools and mold our students into critical thinkers and active participants in our global society.

The foundation of building a democracy through global citizenry is the ability to critically analyze and question social inequalities. West (2004) believes that democracy stems from the Socratic commitment to seek out injustices, which “requires a relentless self-examination and critique of institutions of authority, motivated by an endless quest for intellectual integrity and moral consistency” (p. 16). On university and college campuses, students can strive for conscious citizenry through attending lectures, plays, and exhibits that educate the public about social inequalities such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. The “Tunnel of Oppression” exhibit is a great way to encourage student participation. Each year, many campuses assemble this interactive exhibit that allows students to explore topics related to gender, race, disability, and global violence (www.livingat.wsu.edu/hdrl/events/tunnel.asp). As participants walk through the tunnel, they are confronted with various displays of social issues. Exhibits such as this function as a first step towards inquiry and thus encourage responsible citizenry.

At the national level, the National Student Exchange Program is a great tool that allows students to further their knowledge of global citizenry in another part of the U.S. or in Canada. Students can choose to study for a semester or a year at another institution that provides the opportunity to experience other perspectives through a new location. For example, a black student from a mostly-white college might gain a new perspective by attending a historically black college. For another student committed to the fight against global warming, a semester at the University of Alaska Southeast might provide hands-on experiences in environmental studies (www.nse.org/facultywhy.asp). Issues, such as racism and environmental deterioration, are abundant within our culture. Advisors should encourage student use of tools such as the NSE to explore ways they can address these societal challenges.

Authors in the NACADA Study Abroad Interest Group newsletter note that, “the Senator Simon Act seeks to have 10 million American students studying abroad within 10 years with a substantial increase in study abroad participation to developing nations” (2007). In today’s global society, education is no longer bounded by space. The opportunity to go to a different part of the world can be a life-changing experience for students. A class on global violence taught at the University of Ghana would be very different than the same class taught in the U.S. Students interested in learning more about race, class, or gender issues might want to learn more about how these societal factors play out abroad. For example, how is race defined differently in Australia or China? Through the study abroad program, students gain firsthand insight into these global issues and further their educations as global citizens.

A democracy cannot exist without responsible citizens attuned to injustices at the local, national, and international levels. I believe that academic advisors must support our democracy, embrace our role as teachers, and make a commitment to critical pedagogy. Through good advising, we can cultivate global citizenship in and out of classrooms. Local opportunities such as the Tunnel of Oppression are helpful to all students but especially helpful for students who face budgetary constraints. I challenge academic advisors to search for ways we can help further our students’ journeys to become responsible global citizens. I hope that the various routes presented in this article will inspire advisors to meet our obligations to make our democracy stronger.

Yung-Hwa Anna Chow
General Studies and Advising Center
Washington State University
[email protected]


NACADA concept of academic advising. (2006). National Academic Advising Association. Retrieved June 25, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm.

NACADA Study Abroad Interest Group newsletter. (2007) National Academic Advising Association. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/interestgroups/C38/documents/C38-Newsletter2007Vol2-1.pdf.

The tunnel of oppression. Washington State University, Housing, dining, and residence life. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from www.livingat.wsu.edu/hdrl/events/tunnel.asp.

Thurmond, K and Nutt, C. (2006) Academic advising syllabus: Advising as teaching in action. National Academic Advising Association. Retrieved June 25, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Webinars/documents/W02Handout.pdf.

West, C. (2004) Democracy matters: Winning the fight against imperialism. New York: Penguin Books.

Why exchange? National Student Exchange. Retrieved July 1, 2008 from www.nse.org/facultywhy.asp.

Cite this article using APA style as: Chow, Y. (2008, December). How to promote global citizenry outside of the classroom: At the local, national, and international level. Academic Advising Today, 31(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]  


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