By Mohamed CHTATOU
Morocco World News
Rabat, August 20, 2013
The dynamics caused by migration, transnationalism and the process of globalisation have made coexistence between different societies and cultures the prominent feature of our century. These phenomena also represent the major challenge faced by humanity in the XXI century. The construction of a plural society, where different cultural conceptions and world visions have to somehow fit together, is indispensable in a globalised world. The processes and mechanisms to understand, discuss and live are the basis to create a multicultural society.
Higher Education can undoubtedly play a vital role in the training of would-be multicultural social actors who could be able to construct a globalised social order based on openness and respect of difference. In this regard, the following questions will be addressed in order to elucidate how higher education constructs contribute to these processes:
In what way can higher education prepare train its graduates, so that they are capable of acting within multicultural social and work contexts, which must cease to be exceptional and become normal?
What can higher education institutions undertake to adapt themselves to the new multicultural reality?
How can multiple migrations affect higher education institutions?
How can higher education institutions be active agents able to preserve and foster cultural diversity?
Half a century ago, the Canadian visionary scientist Marshal McLuhan (1911-1980) predicted through his various writings the advent of the Global Village as a result of ground-breaking advances in technology in such areas as transportation, communication and information technology. Today, thanks to the digital revolution, the media has truly become a âtechnological extension of the bodyâ, as he openly stated in his famous work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964).
With the Internet, world citizens can project their image, their culture, their belief and their ideology throughout the planet at the click of a button. This, in many ways, is a major advantage for humanity. However it is also a drawback in the sense that these projections could easily be manipulated by insidiously transferring ideological messages with the intent of brainwashing or moulding people to one’s beliefs.
Today, the net is full of sites that preach certain religions or cultures at the expense of others and even advocate the use of illegal and illegitimate means to achieve their goals, such as violence, deceit, treachery and demagogy. So, in some ways, the global village, is both a very positive development for human kind and a true land mine. After the unfortunate events of September 11, the world discovered the ugly face of globalisation: terrorism and consequent cultural backlash. At this point, an essential question comes to mind: Is going global a positive or a negative undertaking?
In the face of this current dilemma, the university, as a temple of acquisition of beneficial knowledge, positive values, appropriate behaviour and successful ways of life can play a major role in regulating globalisation for the good of humanity. Indeed, because the geographical frontiers are melting away today and nobody can live any more in the comfort of their anonymity and remoteness, humans have to learn to live with each other and accept the âothernessâ of the other. They need to learn how to live with this in relative harmony, and the university can be the appropriate forum for such training.
To properly achieve this objective, the university has to go international not only in the number of nationalities that seek to have represented in its classes, but also in the essence and the format of its curricula. They should adopt international education by extending its international reach through the development of branch campuses abroad, international exchange programmes, cross-cultural courses and online learning initiatives.
It ought to also strive to prepare the student for appropriate global living and for success in the global market. In short, it has to incorporate in its mission statement the concept of the development of the student’s intercultural competencies and leadership skills -skills essential for success in the 21st century environment. This will allow humanity to increasingly benefit from globalisation in such areas as economy, culture, and ways of life.
Today, international education is positioned to deliver career-enhancing opportunities in various environments for people from different cultures and backgrounds. Yet perhaps most importantly, it bring these people together and reduces their risk of clashing over cultural and religious issues. Such cultivation acts as a catalyst for the creation of a transnational learning community designed to enhance their personal and professional development.
Today, there is also an urgent need for a global campus that would serve as the backdrop for continuous transcultural encounters difficult to replicate on traditional campuses; bearing in mind that today’s global organisations are seeking young professionals with genuine international experience and the ability to operate successfully across cultural, political and linguistic boundaries.
The global campus would be required to design competency-based curriculum to develop and boost intercultural grasp and leadership skills of students; and it would, also, aim to provide students with a base of knowledge about the world, its people and cultures.Â These globally relevant learning outcomes are the result of purposeful integration of academic study, international living and experiential learning. With this in mind, it would, also, promote and emphasize such strong values as:
INTEGRITY that upholds the principles of honesty, sincerity and trust;
HEALTH and SAFETY as a top priority;
HUMAN HISTORY, ACHIEVEMENTS, and STRENGTH as sources of inspiration;
TRANSFORMATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL through experiential learning;
STRONG COMMITMENT to global ethics and values;
DIVERSITY and INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE and EXCHANGE;
GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY to make the world a better environment and habitat for all creatures;
ORGANISATIONAL EXCELLENCE through ongoing learning, innovation and communication; and
LEADERSHIP THROUGH TEAMWORK and collaboration,
With these values embedded in an evolution-driven and participation-based curriculum, the student, at graduation, would have achieved the following life-changing objectives:
Achieve greater competence in chosen field of study;
Enhance competence in skills essential to success and stability in the 21st century;
Experience, learn from, critically reflect upon and understand a variety of transnational perspectives;
Navigate through the complexities of diverse global environment with creativity and confidence;
Act as a dynamic leader of local, national and global communities; and Understand the background of various perspectives of major global issues, thus shaping a more compassionate and cooperative attitude toward the world,
This global higher education institution would, in principle, strive to offer a custom-made curriculum for both undergraduate and postgraduate students centred on the following core spheres of knowledge:
international business strategy;
managing cultural diversity in business;
international communication flows;
intercultural communication; and
communication and power paradigms in international relations,
water resource management; and
leadership for sustainable development,
dispute management and resolution;
politics of terrorism;
international security; and
international negotiation and conflict resolution,
GLOBAL CULTURE AND SOCIAL CHANGE:
society and development in the world;
anthropology; and sociology,
WORLDS OF ART AND CULTURE:
introduction to the study of religions;
world music; and world art,
In conclusion, thanks to the digital revolution that has changed the world as we know it, our study of philosophy, pedagogy and humanity must follow suit. The Wall of Berlin has fallen for ever, and thus cultural barriers that exist within our minds have to follow suit sooner rather than later.
As such, universities can play an influential role in creating new social actors that are open, just, communicative and responsible. This will enable them to operate in a globalised world, for the benefit of humanity at large.
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