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Global Learning Initiative

Executive Summary

Winthrop University, founded in 1886, is a comprehensive institution of higher education that enrolls over 6,000 students. Its mission emphasizes the university's collective responsibility to help students acquire and develop knowledge, skills, capabilities and values that enrich their lives and prepare them to meet the needs and challenges of the contemporary world. To address these objectives, Winthrop University faculty, administrators, students, and staff selected the Global Learning Initiative (GLI) as its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to be implemented and assessed through 2016.

The QEP's rationale stems not only from the institution's mission and student body demographics, but also from Winthrop's commitment to its students achieving the Winthrop University-Level Competencies, particularly Competency # 2 that requires students to take seriously the perspectives of others, and Competency # 3 that mirrors the mission's vision to prepare students for the contemporary world by helping them understand the interconnected nature of the world and the time in which they live. (University-Wide Academic Assessment Committee, 2010). Although Winthrop has worked hard to increase international enrollments, has several agreements and cooperative arrangements with international universities, sends a small number of students abroad for study every year, and even requires students to take three hours in a designated global course, more than brief interactions with and exposure to international students and international cultures will benefit Winthrop students. The GLI will build on these ongoing initiatives to promote greater involvement with culturally diverse people, practices, values, and beliefs through the curriculum and other campus-wide activities, thereby enhancing Winthrop's global learning environment.

The GLI's purpose is to integrate global learning intentionally across the Touchstone(general education) Program beginning with freshman year. For the GLI, Winthrop is using Olson, Green, and Hill's definition of global to mean local, regional, national, and/or international experiences that may differ from ones own cultures (adapted from, 2006, p. v).

The GLI will address five student learning outcomes (SLOs) through course work in the Touchstone Program. The SLOs are grouped into three general categories: global knowledge, global attitudes, and global engagement. These three areas first will be addressed in two Touchstone Core courses and then broaden to courses across the Touchstone Program. Not all courses will incorporate aspects of global learning; however, all graduates will have explored global influences, examined culturally diverse relationships, and will have come to understand how those intercultural dynamics impact their senses of self, their lives, and their careers to prepare them better for success in the contemporary world.

Winthrop will use a diverse set of direct and indirect assessment strategies to qualitatively and quantitatively measure progress on GLI implementation and student learning outcomes. These include adapting rubrics designed for current assessment efforts and designing new assessments specifically for the GLI, e.g., a Global Learning Questionnaire that will be administered to students at least three times during their academic careers.