This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 16, 2002

Internationalization of Education

Although some people will remain fearful of travel in the near-term, recent economic and political events have stimulated renewed interest in international education. There is an increasing attention to what happens in other countries, in other cultures . . . and why.

First indications are among university students. Appreciating the increasing globalization of just about everything, they are eager to learn about cultures, languages, and different approaches to life and business. American students seek opportunities to study abroad, at both graduate and undergraduate levels. We may even see more activity in secondary school exchange programs. Students from other countries indicate even more interest in studying at American colleges and universities; many of those institutions are anxious to have them. Multi-cultural learning environments are healthy for all involved, regardless of their location.

Multinational employers are excited about the increase in students studying abroad. These students will become proficient in other languages and cultures, making them valuable human resources in work environments increasingly hungry for people with international communications and management tools. The relatively short supply of multi-lingual graduates hinders global commerce.

Interest in international issues is growing also in the non-university population. People in many countries, encountering Americans, marvel at their astonishing lack of knowledge of other languages, cultures, geography, customs, and current events. American schools have not insisted students learn other languages, placing Americans at a linguistic disadvantage when compared to "foreign" citizens with multi-lingual proficiency. World events have not been emphasized in America's educational system. If Americans are to remain competitive in the world-intellectually, as well as culturally and socially, part of our educational reform must produce substantial change.

Adults have a lot to learn. Too many Americans are deficient in international knowledge. As we travel in other countries, we notice something that may account for some of this ignorance. Television news shows like CNN in the United States do not show anywhere near the amount of world news shown on similar news shows, including CNN, shown in other countries. Editorially, perhaps it's time for CNN to give Americans the quality of international programming available in other countries.

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