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Penn State Professional Development Conference on Academic Advising: Advising for the Global Community October 26, 2011. The Global Citizenship Program at Lehigh University: Lessons Learned. Dr. Gisella Gisolo Program Director, Global Citizenship Program, Lehigh University

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Penn State Professional Development

Conference on Academic Advising:

Advising for the Global Community

October 26, 2011

The Global Citizenship Program

at Lehigh University:

Lessons Learned

Dr. Gisella Gisolo

Program Director, Global Citizenship Program, Lehigh University

Dr. Jill Sperandio

Associate Professor, Educational Leadership Program,

College of Education, Lehigh University

Amanda Midkiff & Natalya Surmachevska,

Senior students in the GC Program

(meet them at the World Tour!)


Presentation outline

1. Program mission, goals, curriculum, challenges

2. Attempts at program assessment


Program description

  • Born 2004: 3-year A.W. Mellon Foundation’s grant
  • Strong and sustained institutional support: LU is now fully subsidizing it (except for a $500 student contribution going towards the scholarship trip)
  • 4-year inter-disciplinary program
  • Certificate (a “backpack program”)
  • vs. major or minor
  • Cross-college, but uneven college distribution (see sample distribution, right)
  • 22-24 seats/year: mostly domestic students, 1-3 internationals

Program mission and goals

  • Mission statement
  • “The Global Citizenship program prepares students for engaged living in a culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. Emphasizing critical analysis and value reflection, the program structures educational experiences through which students learn to negotiate international boundaries and develop their own sense of personal, social and corporate responsibility to the global community”
  • Overarching goals:
    • To educate students by integrating 3 key educational dimensions: knowledge (coursework), experience (study abroad), action (service-learning, leadership, activism)
    • To promote ethical responsibility in a global framework by showing the interdependency between local and global
    • To enhance inter-cultural competence both domestically (“backyard” service-learning experiences) and abroad (“hands-on” study abroad experiences)

Curriculum issues

  • What makes of a course a “GCP” course? (is “GC” an academic discipline? flexible disciplinary boundaries…)
  • How to fit GC courses into demanding curricula (e.g., Honors Programs in Engineering, Business)
  • Increased complexity in student’s plans of study (e.g., multiple majors and minors)
  • How to stay relevant with the “global curriculum:” ongoing re-focusing due to new campus-wide, globally-themed initiatives (e.g., new major in Global Studies; colleges designing ad-hoc global curricula…)

Faculty engagement

  • Many areas:
  • Faculty development seminars
  • Faculty steering committee
  • Study abroad trip leaders (“faculty champions”)
  • Faculty advising for senior Capstone projects
  • Essential role in guaranteeing:
  • Academic rigor
  • Interdisciplinarity 60+ GC-approved electives offered by 25
  • departments
  • Multiplicity of perspectives

Study abroad

  • Scholarship-sponsored intersession trip
    • Most appealing part of the program (attracts applicants; impacts students the most/the longest; wets their appetite for more travel)
    • Makes the program most unique (integrated pre- and post-trip experience vs. one-shot experience abroad)
    • Enhances student cohesiveness, motivation
    • Challenges (for administration):
      • Costs
      • Students get rewarded “upfront”  easy to drop-out!
  • Second mandatory study abroad trip
    • Slight majority of students opting for short-term programs vs. semester abroad
    • Challenges (for students):
      • Financial
      • Curricular (how to allow more flexibility in traditionally “strict” curricula such as Engineering)

Co-curricular requirements

  • A variety of options:
    • Lectures, events, fundraisers, movie screenings, service opportunities…
    • Program governance (GC Student Committee)
    • Engagement in campus life
    • LU/United Nations partnership:
    • (Optional) special interest housing (the “GC House”)
  • The forum where students can:
    • Cultivate leadership
    • Translate theory and experience into action
    • Bridge theory and practice
    • Disseminate the knowledge gleaned during study abroad or acquired in class
    • Elect their personal areas of responsibility and engagement

Program successes and challenges

  • Successes
    • A highly integrated program that touches upon multiple educational dimensions in a student’s intellectual and personal development
    • A highly inter-disciplinary program:
      • cross-college
      • cohorts made of students pursuing different majors (common classes, study abroad, Capstone projects)
      • faculty from different departments
  • Challenges
    • Program retention (15-20% drop-out rate)
    • Program relevance/structure despite college-wide changes (e.g., first-year experience, changes in writing requirements)
    • Short-term and long-term assessment of multiple areas of impact  need for a multi-pronged approach


GC is engaged at the intersection between…

problems to program evaluation
Problems to Program Evaluation
  • No definition of a Global Citizen used by the program – students charged with forming their own definition and working towards it
  • Thus evaluation based on students’ own perceptions of their progress to their own definition and the evidence they present to support this progress
work of karen hendershott 2009
Work of Karen Hendershott (2009)
  • Focused on 4 cohorts of students enrolled in the program between 2004-2009
  • Used a survey, focus group discussions, and individual interviews to tease out the key understandings of global citizenship for each cohort
  • Also identified the program elements that students indicated were most helpful in helping them define their global citizen identity

Process and Maturity

Students moved from an initial concept of global citizenship as the acquisition of knowledge and competencies to the recognition that being a global citizen involved an ongoing process of learning and growth

program elements
Program Elements

Students identified:

  • Constructive engagement with those who were different (“the other”)
  • Opportunities to pursue social activism
  • Engagement in discussion with peers, faculty, and others (reflective dialogue)
  • Membership in a mentoring community

…as being program elements that helped them develop their global citizen identity

61% of the respondents believed they must do more toward developing their global citizen identity, primarily by incorporating activism

After four years in the program, Cohort 1 interviewees’ comments suggested that their definitions of global citizen and self-perceptions as such had evolved into more sophisticated and complex ideas about what makes a global citizen. Students’ increased awareness and experience with the world through the program had moved them toward greater idealism and desire to make a difference. This idealism was tempered by a parallel awareness of what they could realistically accomplish.

  • From “Hendershott K (2010). Transformative learning and global citizen identity development in undergraduates: A case study. Doctoral Dissertation.
final thoughts on evaluation
Final thoughts on Evaluation
  • Student self-evaluation: based on self definition of what global citizenship means, and indicating their perceptions, based on work done, skills acquires, perceptions of transformational learning, towards it
  • Evaluation of the program as providing opportunities to facilitate this process – access to subject courses, opportunities to experience ‘the other’, reflective discourse, mentoring and opportunities for activism



Contact Information

Dr. Gisella Gisolo -

Dr. Jill Sperandio –

Amanda Midkiff –

Natalya Surmachevska –