How to create global citizens?

Over the past fifteen years, experts in higher education have realized that universities have a responsibility to equip their students with the necessary tools to work and live in a global context. When students acquire cross-cultural skills, they feel comfortable working and associating with people from different cultures and countries and can take advantage of the kind of creativity that occurs when people from different cultures work with each other.

A colleague from Tel Aviv University in the chemistry department tells me that when his lab is made up exclusively of Israeli students, they will do their job. But if Israeli students are joined in the lab by a German student, a Brazilian student, and an Indian student, sparks fly and true creativity ensues. Each student brings to the laboratory or classroom a different cultural and academic world. To take full advantage of this diversity, students must be equipped with multicultural collaboration skills.

But, after Corona, there is a growing recognition that the importance of the global toolbox goes beyond the personal success of our students. It has become increasingly apparent that people around the world are interconnected in all aspects of their lives. While the COVID-19 crisis, with its lockdowns, travel bans and closures, caused further isolation, it also led to a greater understanding of the problems and difficulties common to people around the world by virtue of our shared vulnerability and precariousness. . The pandemic has shown that no nation can heal the crisis alone.

TAUi will host a live webinar, on November 14 at 4:30 pm IST, where you can hear from leaders in academia, biotechnology, and international diplomacy and learn how you, too, became a member of the global community. Click here to register.

In that sense, international education is becoming even more critical because these connections will be more significant in the world in the coming years. It is for these reasons that Tel Aviv University places great emphasis on providing Israeli and international students with opportunities for global education, interaction, and a diverse cultural and linguistic perspective.

How do you provide an international toolbox for today’s students? For many years, this was commonly achieved by having Israeli students study abroad for one semester and bringing students from their home countries to Tel Aviv. This method, while still important, is limited to those who have the financial capacity to study abroad. Many Israeli students are working during their studies and cannot take time off to study in other countries. But there are other ways to bring an international flair to your campus without having to travel abroad. One way is to introduce internationally minded curriculum content that can broaden students’ horizons. Another way, which is perhaps one of the few positive by-products of corona, is to connect with international students around the world by combining classrooms through digital platforms. Over the past year at Tel Aviv University, we called on our teachers to suggest ways to bring this kind of experience in the international classroom.

We are now carrying out several interesting projects in collaboration with universities outside of Israel that demonstrate this potential. We offer a social work class that focuses on refugees and asylum seekers in both Israel and Germany. Zoom’s virtual classroom combines Israeli and German students who are thinking about similar problems in different contexts. Another class focuses on discussing and resolving chronic water shortage conditions in Israel and California, held virtually with students in both countries.

Ultimately, however, at Tel Aviv University, the most important mechanism for creating a global toolbox and fostering global citizenship is bringing students from all over the world to Tel Aviv and integrating them into our classes alongside Israeli students. We are working hard to diversify our international student body and create social and learning experiences for Israeli and international students to experience together.

These collective experiences may also address the question frequently asked after Corona: why would students want to come to campus when they have gotten used to studying online? The creation of an international hub on our campus allows students to have meaningful interactions with students from around the world. This is part of the campus experience that cannot be replaced by online teaching.

Tel Aviv University is committed to fostering the next generation of world citizens, both in Israel and abroad, who can work together to ensure the common good for years to come.

Milette Shamir is Vice President of International Collaboration at Tel Aviv University.

TAUi will host a live webinar, on November 14 at 4:30 pm IST, where you can hear from leaders in academia, biotechnology, and international diplomacy and learn how you, too, became a member of the global community. Click here to register.

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