Global Studies Impact: A Case Study of the International School of the Americas

Global Studies Impact: A Case Study of the International School of the Americas

Donna Reed (Southwest Independent School District, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0522-8.ch019


This qualitative case study describes global studies education and curriculum, global citizenship, and the impact of a global studies education and curriculum on students after graduation. What life choices might be influenced by what the students learned through global studies? Did they choose their university studies based on globalized thinking? These are difficult questions to answer, because there are so many variables in the life of an adolescent when making choices after high school graduation. This study discovers the impact of a global studies education with a global citizenship emphasis on graduates of a global studies high school through student voice and experience—backwards mapping.
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Giving our young people the tools to think globally in our local environment in order to compete in the global workforce within the world today is essential (Jackson, 2004, 2008; Roberts, 2007). This global workforce necessitates young adults work in diverse circumstances to solve problems and to create the future for themselves and their children, which, in turn, requires them to possess a global worldview (Davies, Evans & Reed, 2005; Jackson, 2008; Mansilla & Gardner, 2007). This encompasses “education for responsible participation in an interdependent global society” (Anderson & Anderson, 1979, p. 7). Future adults need to know the world, not just from the myopic vision of the United States, but also from a panorama that encompasses outside views of the United States and how the interdependent world works (Boyer et al., 2007; Gibson et al., 2008; Sanchez, 2007; Tye, 2003).

A global studies education concept has been written about since the Victorian era, when the first school of its kind opened in London in 1866 (Hayden et al., 2002). Although this school only lasted 16 years, the discussion of international education in its various forms and formats has continued. The next notable venture into international education came from Switzerland in 1924 with the International School of Geneva (Hayden et al., 2002). Global war and depression halted the “vision of international harmony by the creation of a new type of education” facilitating the idea of being “a citizen of the world at large,” and the discussion waned until after the Second World War (Hayden et al., 2002, p. 30). After the Second World War, the “United States developed markedly more interest in the international community and in the 1950s encouraged international education for its school children” (Cook, 2008, p. 897). The words international and global were making their way into the national consciousness again. In the 1950s, other nations called for the United States to lead the world in ending hunger. In the 1960s, communication theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “global village” when speaking of electronic technology and how it had created a smaller world (McLuhan, 1964/1994, p. 5). And, in the 1970s, Robert Hanvey (1976) wrote his An Attainable Global Perspective, calling for young people to acquire a global perspective on education. As a result world history was added to most curriculums to bring about this “formation of a global perspective” (p. 1).

Life in the 21st century connects the world through instant media (Azmitia, Syed, & Radmacher, 2008; Boyer et al., 2007; Webber & Robertson, 2004). Global media causes a huge shift in the way young people see the world; it brings a global community into their home (Boyer et al., 2007). The United States education system lags behind this shift, which is triggering the impetus for education with a more global view (Scott, 2005).

The most recent impetus for international education emphasizing cultural differences has been the war on terror, beginning with the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. Those terrorist attacks motivated an increase in educational research in knowing more about the world outside the United States and the West (Cook, 2008). This time knowing the world outside the United States and the West, however, is not necessarily about global citizenship and understanding, but, maybe, about knowing one’s enemy and trying to achieve economic superiority (Boyer et al., 2007; Cook, 2008; Frey & Whitehead, 2009).

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