Offices & Resources

St. Mark's Global Citizenship in Theory and in Practice
St. Mark's Global Citizenship in Theory and in Practice

I am very proud of our Global Citizenship Program because of the way it benefits each one of our 360 students and because of the way it benefits our School as a whole. Our students gain knowledge and insight about themselves and the world from courses, from spending time with students visiting St. Mark's from our partner schools, and from participating in exchange or travel opportunities. The climate of our School is enriched by the periodic presence of students from our partner schools in Australia, Korea, Germany, and Chile. Valuable conversations result in the Dining Hall, in classes, in the Houses, and elsewhere around campus that enlarge our students' perspective. The climate is also enriched by what our students bring back from their travel. Our students who return from places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic and Cuba share their stories both informally and in formal settings like Chapel and School Meeting enlarging the perspective of their peers.

I am very proud of our Global Citizenship Program because of the way it benefits each one of our 360 students and because of the way it benefits our School as a whole. Our students gain knowledge and insight about themselves and the world from courses, from spending time with students visiting St. Mark's from our partner schools, and from participating in exchange or travel opportunities. The climate of our School is enriched by the periodic presence of students from our partner schools in Australia, Korea, Germany, and Chile. Valuable conversations result in the Dining Hall, in classes, in the Houses, and elsewhere around campus that enlarge our students' perspective. The climate is also enriched by what our students bring back from their travel. Our students who return from places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic and Cuba share their stories both informally and in formal settings like Chapel and School Meeting enlarging the perspective of their peers.

I want our School to prepare our students to lead lives of consequence in whatever way makes the most sense for them. What our students gain from courses that possess a Global Citizenship orientation, from exchange and travel opportunities, and from engagement at St. Mark's with peers from partner schools and with peers who have participated in our programs certainly furthers that goal.

A sophisticated educational framework orients every element of our Global Citizenship Program. That educational framework allows the goal articulated in the phrase that closes our Mission Statement, "we encourage each person to explore his or her place in the larger world beyond our campus," to become personally impactful. That educational framework also enables the Global Citizenship Program to advance relevant Educational Outcomes stated in our Strategic Plan: building intercultural knowledge and competence, building resilience and adaptability, and building an appreciation of personal and cultural differences.

One scholar whose work has influenced the educational framework, because of its relevance to the Strategic Plan's Educational Outcomes, is Harvard Project Zero's Victoria Boix-Mansilla. Boix-Mansilla urges schools to build global competence, "the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance." [1]

The capacity to understand and act comes from knowledge, skills and habits of mind. At St. Mark's the knowledge, skills and habits of mind are intentionally taught in the classroom through courses such as The Global Seminar and Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In these classes students are taught about the nature of the interdependent world and are asked to work to take the perspectives of others and to have empathy for others. These skills and habits of mind are honed when students engage in our travel and homestay programs. When I ask St. Mark's homestay participants about cultural knowledge gained, and when I ask their counterparts who have spent time at St. Mark's, they frequently focus on the different approaches to education that they have experienced. V Former Nathan Laudani and VI Former Ashley Borys, who spent six weeks last summer in Australia, described being parts of classes that normally featured the lecture format and contained as many as twenty-five students. Their counterparts, Caitlin Boyle, Clancy Adamson, Nick Richmond and Liam Henry, by contrast, described St. Mark's classes as much more relaxed and interactive. VI Former Mo Liu, a 2016 Germany homestay participant, found the students divided into three tracks, ranging from a more intellectual to a less intellectual educational program

Further skills which are built throughout the St. Mark's Global Citizenship program include the ability to ask important questions, analyze and synthesize evidence, engage in inclusive dialogue and demonstrate resilience in new situations. Ideally, these skills develop naturally through day-to-day interactions. As I listened to our homestay participants, I learned that day-to-day interactions which build the skills Boix-Mansilla emphasizes often occurred around food. VI Former Julia Munn appreciated the care her German host family took in finding out what food she enjoyed which led to searching conversations, and Julia also told me that her host family introduced her to foods she had not tasted before, like weisswurst.[2] In many cases, host families took our students on trips by their host family, for example to Neuschwanstein, [3] in Germany and to Sydney in Australia. I heard how the trips provided yet more opportunity for dialogue and added to the resilience required of everyone who participates in a homestay.

The disposition to understand and act, which Boix-Mansilla identifies as essential to global competence, is an attitude. This attitude is characterized by a desire to engage with others, to value multiple perspectives, to possess self-awareness about identity and culture, and to be comfortable with ambiguity and unfamiliar situations. I am proud of the intentional steps we take at St. Mark's to foster that attitude among all of our students. With homestays, that engagement often happens through sports. In Germany last summer, VI Former Matt Leigh traveled an hour-and-a-half on the back of his host father's motorcycle to an Under-18 soccer team practice. IV Former Charlotte Galusza got to join the field hockey team that the twin girls in her Chilean host family play on.

The understanding of different cultures deepens through participation in special events. IV Former Anuoluwa Akibu engaged in a Chilean Children's Day celebration, a distinct contrast to anything she has experienced in the United States, while VI Former Trevor Schifferdecker joined his Spanish host family in the Festival of San Pedro, participating "just like all the other Spanish kids."

I like Boix-Mansilla's emphasis on capacity and disposition in her definition of global competence because it identifies that element of global citizen as an ongoing process of growth that, ideally, continues throughout life. St. Mark's contributes to that growth through the experiences we provide. Students do not leave St. Mark's, then, believing they possess all the knowledge and skills required of global citizenship. Rather, we hope, students leave St. Mark's with a habit of mind that seeks continued global citizenship knowledge and skills. This habit of mind befits an education that prepares young people for lives of leadership and service.

I also like Boix-Mansilla's emphasis on both understanding and action because if one is to lead a life of consequence, make a contribution to the world—whether in one's community or more broadly--one must act. Responsible action, however, derives from understanding.

The work of other scholars also provide valuable reference points for the St. Mark's Global Citizenship educational framework. In January 2017, for example, University of Southern California Professor Irshad Manji, who has written extensively on the moral courage required for Global Citizenship, spent two days on campus engaged in large and small group discussions with faculty and students. Throughout the Global Citizenship literature, by Boix-Mansilla, by Manji, and by many other scholars, the emphasis on building knowledge, skills, and attitudes recurs.[4]

Listening to a small sample of our students who have participated in homestays affirmed for me the benefit these homestays provide for the participants and also for St. Markers who hear about the experiences. When talking about their experiences, our St. Mark's homestay veterans and their visiting counterparts did not make explicit connections to the categories we identify when describing the benefits of our Global Citizenship program. As I hope you see in the paragraphs above, I was certainly able to make those connections. [5] I am sure that the students I talked to will continue to grow in knowledge and skills because of the habits of mind they displayed in their commentary. I am also sure that their fellow students who have participated in one or more of our travel programs and who have taken globally oriented courses will grow impressively because of the habits of mind they have gained.

[4] See, for example, Darla K. Deardorf, "Theory Reflections: Intercultural Competence Framework/Model" that includes a comprehensive bibliography.

[5] I greatly appreciate the help of Director of Global Citizenship Laura Appell-Warren and Assistant Director of Global Citizenship Neil Cifuentes in making those connections.

[6] Thank you to our student and faculty participants for providing photographs that document their Global Citizenship experiences.