Friday, 29 June 2012

Chris Shiel: Keynote presentation - Contributing to a learning planet

Link to abstract

Contributing to a learning planet?
What do we need to understand about the planet and what do we mean by global education?

Chris Shiel’s keynote speech delivered an inspirational and passionate view of internationalisation and sustainable development. She started us thinking by asking if anyone was wearing anything that was sourced and made exclusively in the UK, which neatly led into the issues to be covered – Internationalisation and Sustainable Development – ‘HUGE AND HIGHLY COMPLEX SUBJECTS’, as she put it (her caps).

A key issue was the strong link between internationalisation and employability. HE is a global industry but – in the UK – how are we ensuring our students have a global awareness? Nowadays many employers are more interested in knowledge and awareness of the wider world than in A-level results and there is evidence that they feel graduates’ horizons are not broad enough. The UK, she argued, will be left behind by fast-growing countries such as China, India and Brazil unless we really start to educate our young people to think globally.

Chris pointed out that although Educational Sustainable Development (ESD) was signed up to by most Vice-Chancellors, the awareness of this policy at the ‘chalk face’ was low (a point she supported by asking for a show of hands from us). Chris also questioned the myth of student mobility, asking whether UK students can actually meet the challenge of moving to another country. She suggested we need support to weave the global perspective into the curriculum and gave examples of how this is being achieved at Bournemouth University through embedding global and international perspectives throughout the learning experience. On the wider stage, her important considerations are: curriculum, pedagogy, mobility, extra-curricular, and social entrepreneurship.

It was a challenging presentation, asking a lot of questions of us: Do we assume we know everything? Do we ask often enough what we can learn from our overseas colleagues?

She feels we should be contributing to a learning planet by connecting agendas and balancing the regional with the global. She left us with a quote: “The global economy demands global thinking. We are preparing learners for a future that is evolving, uncertain and global – that future needs to be sustainable” and a YouTube clip:

Celia Cozens, CLTE

1 comment:

  1. Getting students to think globally makes total sense and I know I benefitted hugely from the experience of a year in France. (It was a lot further away then, with no tunnel or Easyjet!). But there is of course an environmental catch 22 here. If thousands of London based students suddenly want to fly which results in a third runway at Heathrow or second runway at Stansted, is that good for the rest of London?

    Is it really sustainable? I'm not sure we have an answer to that yet.