Living learning community to focus on global studies

The Global Scholars Program will prepare students to be citizens of the world in a setting that's just down the hall or a short walk across campus.

As U-M's newest living learning community, the program beginning in fall will bring together students from the United States and around the world in an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to foster understanding of cultural, racial, ethnic and religious differences and their impact on political, economic, environmental and energy issues.

"Our program is designed for students interested in global issues, intercultural exchange and expanding their learning environment and classmates beyond U-M," says Jennifer Yim, director of the Global Scholars Pilot Program.

Faculty members will use lectures, dialogues, video conferences and visiting international scholars to engage students, Yim says.

The pilot program, located in East Quad for the 2009-10 academic year, will have a core curriculum focused on broadening students' intercultural learning and global awareness. It will be open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. When fully established, the curriculum will expand to contemporary global issues, including crises that require multi-national collaborations to address. Students will also be encouraged to pursue international study, service learning and work opportunities.

The pilot curriculum will include:

• Intergroup dialogue courses exploring social group identity, conflict, community and social justice. Each group will include students of various races, ethnicities, religions socioeconomic classes, genders and sexual orientations;

• "Global Understanding," a course using video conferences and online chats to link U-M students with two or three partner institutions around the world. Each student will be assigned a peer at each of the institutions;

• A required collaborative group project that will allow students to work together in small groups throughout the year, exploring global issues and intercultural learning opportunities on campus; and

• An academic lecture series covering a range of issues related to global awareness, such as international adoption policy, global economics, medical practice in Africa and grassroots youth leadership working towards conflict resolution in the Middle East.

The Global Scholars Program will engage students in the world in a way that is both intimate and international, says Terrence McDonald, dean of LSA.

"This new living learning program will offer students a chance to explore global issues in small group settings within their campus community and also with students and faculty around the world using innovative teaching methods," McDonald says. "The Global Scholars Program will give students a multicultural understanding of world issues, which is essential for active citizenship in the 21st century."

Faculty from LSA and the School of Information, LSA Student Government representatives and University Housing staff collaborated on the program's design. The Program on Intergroup Relations developed the pilot curriculum.

"The Global Scholars Program extends the pedagogy of intergroup relations to emphasize global social justice," says Kelly Maxwell, co-director of The Program on Intergroup Relations. "Since global experiences are increasingly important for all students, IGR is honored to provide leadership in developing relevant curriculum and collaborating in the development of this new learning community."

The Global Scholars Program, U-M's 10th residential learning program, will offer students a unique opportunity to expand their understanding of global issues, says University Housing Interim Director Linda Newman.

"This is an exciting and vibrant focus for a new living learning community at Michigan," Newman says.