Global Competence

Global Competence is not a topic that I have spent much time pondering over the last 40 or so years.

Thankfully, I grew up in an environment where different cultures were embraced and often people who didn’t look like me or speak the same language as my family would come for meals or spend a few days in our home. As an adult, I’ve lived in a number of different places and have very much enjoyed learning about different groups of people. My sisters have adopted children from different cultures, countries, and backgrounds and our family is better for the differences. As our family has grown, so has our mosaic.

huichol string art

But as a teacher, I don’t know that I have done a very good job teaching with a global mindset. So much of what I had to do on a daily basis was to teach a set of skills. If the skill and culture collided, I used it. As an art teacher, I loved teaching about the Huichol Indians. As a theatre teacher, I love teaching about 6 forms of Japanese theatre. But I’m asking myself now, how can I do better?

Why now? Well, in my new job as an Instructional Designer for a Tarleton State University, I have had the opportunity to jump into my new environment and start learning! This past week I attended a virtual conference for Non-Land-Grant Agriculture and Renewable Resources Universities. (#NARRU) I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. My personality type is to read, ask, research and learn! So I attended and wow. I may not have had a clue about a lot of what they said, but what I did get, I’m ready to use.


The first day’s professional development portion was over inclusion. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think back on students that I have had over the last 20 years that desperately needed someone to advocate for them. I advocated for them the best that I knew how, and I’m proud of my efforts, but my heart aches for all of the missed opportunities.

Here are a few takeaways from Dr. Shannon Archibeque-Engle and Dr. Antomia Farrell

  • If we want to break barriers, and have real conversations, we need to have small targeted groups that encourage participation. No one wants to be the one person that talks. No one wants to be the one singled out. No one wants to be the “poster child. “
  • Inclusion happens with engagement, transparency and truth telling.
  • Dispel myths.
  • Recruitment isn’t the answer, retention is.

So, I’m taking these ideas and thinking of my personal life and our experience. I have to say, those four ideas hit home. But that was really just a start. The drumming in my head began as a soft tap and with day two of the conference, it became a loud thump.

Day 2 was about Global Learning.

Dr. Melanie Miller Foster taught about Global Learning and shared with us the Four Domains of Global Competence.

4 domains of global competence

As someone that is determined that her children will grow up to view the world as a large mosaic, full of needed colors and textures and patterns, I was intrigued by the four domains. While yes, I want my children to be travelers, I want them to be more than just takers. I want them to take action!

If future leaders, teachers and politicians have the chance to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, recognize that their viewpoint is not the only perspective in the world, can communicate with people that are from different backgrounds, cultures and speak different languages, and then will to take action to better the world.. man, I want to be a part of that movement!

And so where do we start? Well, thankfully, Dr. Miller Foster gave a framework for that as well. We don’t have to send our children (or ourselves) across the world without preparation. She suggests a stair step approach.

  1. Awareness
  2. At Home
  3. Community
  4. Away (not local, but not out of the country)
  5. Abroad (across a border…)

Why is this important? Because only 42% of Americans have passports and of that 42% I wonder how many have used their passport for more than just tourism in well curated places? I’ve traveled some, have been to a number of different countries, and have experienced a semester in a study abroad program.. but I would count myself in the group that still need to focus on awareness and learn at home!

I live in a community that has layered diversity hidden in the whiteness. I so want to broaden my world and that of my children. So I’m going to start looking, and learning, and advocating for inclusive practices in my community. And then I’m going to start looking a little further out and increase my circle so that eventually my family will be ready to cross a border for more than an all-inclusive beach front vacay.

And that’s my prayer for all of us.

our incredible family mosaic

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