UC Davis is embarking on an ambitious goal: to provide all students—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—with international and intercultural learning experiences before graduation. To help this vision of Global Education for All become a reality, Global Affairs is creating a Global Learning Hub, which will build on existing resources within Global Affairs such as programs through Study Abroad and grants through the Blum Center for Developing Economies—as well as opportunities across campus.
“Our students are graduating into a world that’s highly interconnected and interdependent,” says Nancy Erbstein, director of Global Education for All. “We really want them to be ready to take all the skills and knowledge they’ve developed at UC Davis and effectively use them across countries and cultures and communities after graduation.”
As she sees it, it’s crucial for Aggies to have global learning experiences. These types of opportunities foster respectful engagement with diverse perspectives, promote understanding of how we affect—and are affected by—global issues and systems, and build capacity to address the world’s most pressing issues collaboratively and equitably. As a university responsible for preparing students to live and work in a globalizing world, she considers these global learning experiences key to helping students thrive—regardless of where they find themselves after graduation.
Joanna Regulska, vice provost and associate chancellor of Global Affairs, agrees. “Providing students with valuable global learning opportunities—and ensuring these experiences are accessible—allows them to better understand other cultures, other nations, and other ways of thinking,” she says. “It also prepares students with crucial employability skills, such as critical thinking, cultural humility, adaptability, resiliency, empathy, and the ability to find solutions for complex challenges.”
Envisioned as a locus for the UC Davis community, the Global Learning Hub will link programming and resources across campus that support global learning domestically and internationally. It will continue to offer a broad portfolio of academic coursework, study abroad and away programs. Now it will also offer new opportunities through academic coursework, domestic and international experiential learning (e.g., research, service-learning, internships), and leadership activities on the Davis and Sacramento campuses (e.g., global living and learning communities, on-campus leadership opportunities).
“Working on global challenges in our own backyard, via collaboration with our wonderfully diverse and internationally-connected campus and region, offers a really powerful set of global learning opportunities,” says Erbstein.
By offering a robust web presence and a central physical location, the Global Learning Hub’s aim will be to help remove current barriers to access.
“There are a lot of global learning resources that already exist on and around the UC Davis campuses, but at this point it’s challenging to find out about all of them and related funding opportunities,” says Erbstein. “One of the first things we want to do through the Global Learning Hub is work toward creating a one-stop-shop, so students can construct global learning pathways at UC Davis that reflect their interests and aspirations.”
Global Learning, Anywhere
Zachary Frieders, director of Study Abroad, recognizes that this focus on global learning is key to helping students become global agents of change, regardless of where they study. For him, connecting students with the people, communities, and topics that genuinely engage them is what’s important.
“Global learning is not just about understanding different cultures, but learning about global systems, histories, power and privilege, and all of the moving elements that affect societies today,” he says. “If we think about how students can engage in learning about, for example, sustainable development and social responsibilities, it quickly becomes clear that students don’t have to travel out of the country or the area to do this,” he says.
Moreover, because UC Davis champions transnational research, collaborations, and student experience, the Global Learning Hub will also bring to light the wealth of intercultural knowledge already on campus.
“Take something like food security,” says Frieders. “Through our Campus Global Theme Program Food for Thought, we’ll be hearing from domestic, international and transnational students, staff and faculty members from different disciplines about their perspectives on the same topic of global importance. Intercultural learning is embedded in global topics like this, right here in Davis and Sacramento.”
Of course for students who want global learning experiences in another country or in another part of the United States as part of their time at UC Davis, the Global Learning Hub will be there to help. Aligning with Global Education for All, Global Affairs already offers an expanding portfolio of for-credit domestic and international Study Abroad programs, at various times of the year and focused on many different areas of study—and financial aid applies. There are also international opportunities for internships, research, community-engaged service learning, and for getting involved on campus with various international fellowship programs.
For Frieders, the Global Learning Hub will focus on getting students to think first about why is it important to engage in global learning, and then to think about the ways, locations, and contexts in which they want to participate.
“It’s all about supporting students to consider the types of global learning interactions that fit with their experience, interests, and academic pursuits,” he says.
About Global Affairs at UC Davis
Global Affairs brings the world to UC Davis, welcoming more than 10,000 international students, scholars and leaders, and hosting programs that inspire global curiosity, understanding and engagement. Compelled by the valuable outcomes of thinking globally, we make transformative opportunities a reality by supporting the thousands of students and faculty studying and researching internationally—and by facilitating collaborations that tackle the world's most pressing problems through more than 150 international partnerships.
Putting our vision of a UC Davis community that engages, thrives, and leads in this interconnected world into action, Global Affairs is now in pursuit of an ambitious goal: Global Education for All.