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International Education in the Schools: The State of the Field.

The improvement of international education in U.S. schools cries out for strong national leadership. Ms. Kagan and Ms. Stewart, guest editors of this special section, make the case that helping students become globally competent citizens is crucial to the future prosperity and security of the United States, and they discuss strategies for making this happen.

THROUGHOUT this special section, as in many of the documents used in its preparation, the call for a greater focus on international education (IE) is sounded loudly. The contributors to this section have used the terms international education and international studies to refer to the intentional preparation of American students -- prekindergarten through college -- to be citizens, workers, and leaders in the interconnected world of the 21st century.

Given that the nation's political and economic leaders have voiced concerns that we are not preparing our students to succeed in a globalized world and that we have a system of universal K-12 public education in which some schools have adopted some excellent and diverse IE models, one might think that IE is a "no brainer"! It is not. In contemporary America, IE is the coveted jewel of a limited number of forward-looking academics, practitioners, and advocates. According to Robert Scott, president of Adelphi University, IE has been the subject of "many calls, but little action," with global illiteracy the result.1

Many reports and commissions have noted the problem, including the Perkins Commission on Languages and International Studies in the 1970s; the Carter Administration's Simon Commission, which called for significantly greater attention to foreign languages; reports from the American Council on Education in the 1980s calling for the internationalization of higher education; and reports from the Asia Society and the National Geographic Society in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Both the Clinton Administration and the current Bush Administration have supported an emphasis on IE. In 2002, at the first States Institute on International Education in the Schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige declared that "to meet our goal to leave no child behind, we must shift our focus from current practice and encourage programs that introduce our students to international studies earlier in their education, starting in kindergarten."

To be sure, the press for international education is not entirely new, with some of the clarion calls being backed by action, especially in higher education. For 50 years the federal government has supported, primarily for national security purposes, the development of area studies, international studies, and language centers to produce scholars and experts in major world regions. Moreover, in the past 15 years, many higher education institutions have been trying to "internationalize" their curriculum, to encourage students to study abroad, and to promote the international exchange of faculty.2 Although K-12 education lags behind higher education, some states have added language to their social studies standards that encourages teaching about world regions, history, geography, or religions.

Despite these advances, so far there has been little change in K-12 classrooms or in the general state of American students' knowledge of the world. Why have American schools been so inward looking? One can speculate on many possible reasons for this tendency -- geography, economy, history, ideology. Compared to European countries, the United States is a huge continental landmass, isolated by two enormous oceans. Its large domestic market has meant that international trade was, until recently, a relatively small part of the economy. New immigrants, fleeing repression at home, often wanted to forget where they had come from, which corresponded well with the mission of U.S. schools to create a new nation by "Americanizing" these immigrants. Two world wars fueled Americans' sense of isolationism and contributed to intense suspicion of those who spoke languages other than English.

In addition, structural factors of the U.S. education system have contributed to the lack of emphasis on IE. The decentralized, highly local nature of educational decision making has led schools to focus on state and local history and affairs. And, in recent years, the focus of accountability systems on basic skills has inadvertently resulted in a narrowing of curricula and expenditures in many schools. The lack of funding for innovation, capacity building, or research for effective IE has limited its growth, despite increasing awareness and interest.

This lack of widespread interest in international education in the United States, while troublesome in and of itself, is compounded by growing commitments to international education being made by other nations. The European Union is expanding language instruction to begin at age 7 and is encouraging partnerships between schools within Europe and those from other countries. Australia has had a decadelong national initiative to add the teaching of Asian languages, history, and culture to all its schools. Some countries in East Asia are adding "international skills" -- English language, world history and geography, and technology -- to their curricula.

This is not to say that other nations are exempt from educational isolationism; all countries' education systems have traditionally focused on their own history and culture to varying degrees. Indeed, in some parts of the world, both formal and informal education produce ethnocentrism and even outright hatred for other groups.3 In the past decade, however, most industrialized countries have been strengthening their students' knowledge of other cultures and languages.

In developing this special section, we sought to show several things. First, the U.S. lags behind other countries in imparting to its students the skills needed to be citizens and workers in the 21st-century global age. Second, the elements necessary for significant education reform with regard to IE are not yet firmly in place; there is, as yet, no uniform vision or mobilized intellectual/practical/financial infrastructure to support its advancement.

In addition to briefly summarizing its content, we want to conclude this special section by advancing our own thesis on what is needed to increase the focus on IE in American schools, based on the work of Julius Richmond, M.D., professor emeritus at Harvard and former U.S. surgeon general. Exhibiting wisdom far greater than our own, Dr. Richmond presciently realized that any social revolution needs three things: 1) a codified knowledge base, 2) public will for change, and 3) a social strategy. We regard IE as a necessary social and educational revolution and address its current status in light of Dr. Richmond's three conditions for reform.


As the articles in this special section clearly indicate, there is an increasingly strong rationale for, and mounting concern about, IE in our schools. At its most narrow construction, the rationale for IE focuses on the rudimentary knowledge base of American students. Seminal studies by the National Commission on Asia in the Schools found that 25% of college-bound high school students surveyed did not know the name of the ocean that separates the United States from Asia and that 80% did not know that India is the world's largest democracy or who Mao Zedong was.4 And we are incredulous at the findings from the National Geographic Society/Roper survey that, among the students from eight countries surveyed, those attending American schools were the second most poorly informed about world affairs or geography. What might we expect when our students cannot even identify the location of Afghanistan or Israel (two nations not exactly ignored by the media), but know that a recent "Survivor" show was shot in the South Pacific?5 Clearly, we have a problem.

The challenge only begins here. We live in a time when the amount of information available to us is expanding at unprecedented rates: 24-hour newscasts, 24-7 Internet availability, prolific growth in the numbers of cable TV channels, just to mention a few. The problem today is not a lack of information; rather, it is a lack of knowledge. Carlos Fuentes notes that "the greatest challenge facing modern society and civilization is how to cope with and how to transform information to knowledge."6 So our educational vision in general, and for IE in particular, must not be constrained by the mere acquisition of facts. The question facing educators today is less about the mastery of world geography or current events or any topical factoids, however critical they may be, than about integrating and synthesizing exponentially increasing amounts of information in a way that addresses issues in civic and global life.

The larger issue inherent in our current Zeitgeist is, of course, the need to fundamentally reexamine the intents of American education. In the spring of 2004, Harvard University released the report of its first major review of its undergraduate curriculum in almost 30 years. The report concludes that in a fast-changing world, students urgently need knowledge of a wider range of subjects, including a deeper understanding of the principles of science and a far greater grasp of international affairs. With regard to the latter, the study recommends significant reforms of the undergraduate curriculum to ensure greater international knowledge and experience and stronger foreign language skills for graduates who will be "globally competent." Today's students "need to be able to appreciate other cultures and to work expertly in other countries or as part of an international team."7

But the issue the Harvard curriculum review sought to address is not just a question that applies to the education of elite students. As we evaluate the status of our IE knowledge base, we must admit that our work seeks more to identify fundamental issues of American education than to determine which continents to "teach" in geography. Our work is really about deciding what it means to be an educated citizen in the 21st century.

The stakes are obviously very high. We need a broad discussion of educational purpose and rigorous experimentation on a wide range of related issues, among them those suggested by the articles contained herein. How could we synthesize the efforts to reform our ineffective high schools with those to internationalize the curriculum (Jackson)? What should our stance be with respect to foreign language instruction, and how could we design programs that are far more effective in producing language proficiency (Met)? How could we educate teachers for a global curriculum (Kelly)? We need to address these issues within the broader context of society as well, however. Students in much of the world today live in an increasingly media- and technology-saturated environment. How could we optimize the use of media and information technologies to promote curiosity about the world and empathy toward other cultures, rather than hatred or cultural hegemony (Wartella and Knell, and Roberts)?

In short, as we consider the need to expand the IE knowledge base, we are calling on our society to redefine the purposes of American education to meet the needs of the new century and to address the pedagogical and curricular correlates that will enable such purposes to be achieved.


At national conferences today, irrespective of the topic, international issues are increasingly being addressed, if not showcased. Scientists, economists, and political leaders all operate in a global context. And after 9/11, who among the American public can fail to acknowledge the importance of world affairs to our nation? Although this emphasis on the world outside our borders has not yet resulted in a strong or sustained focus on IE, as former governors Hunt and Engler point out, international education is beginning to elicit public support for three diverse yet equally critical imperatives: the economic imperative, the security imperative, and the citizenship imperative.

The economic imperative. The global economy is here to stay. The American economy is deeply intertwined with those of countries around the world through imports, exports, and overseas and domestic investment. Even small companies that do not label themselves as international corporations are engaged globally. These trends, already strong, are likely to increase as two-thirds of the world's purchasing power and 95% of the world's consumers exist outside the U.S.8 Students must be ready to work in a highly competitive international economic environment. Businesses need employees who can think globally.9 These economic realities have not escaped the attention of state governors and opinion leaders. Hoping to keep their economies strong, governors and their states' business leaders are key advocates for greater emphasis on IE and are strong shapers of public will.

The security imperative. The launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the attacks of September 11 acted as loud wake-up calls, signaling to the American people that foreign languages and international and cross-cultural understanding are key to our national security. International studies could no longer be restricted to an educated elite or the Foreign Service corps. To the contrary, in the face of global misunderstanding, international education is an important component of long-term security.

Inherent in a growing commitment to international education is the understanding that it needs to be thought of as a two-way street in order to address the tremendous misinformation about the U.S. that circulates in many parts of the world. National security and foreign policy need a foundation in educational, cultural, and exchange activities that promote dialogue, cross-cultural understanding, and the creation of direct personal and institutional relationships.

With regard to individual security, issues such as global climate change or the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic have no respect for political borders. The public understands, however reluctant it might be to admit it, that some of the world's most penetrating challenges demand international knowledge and cooperation for their solution.

The citizenship imperative. Dramatic demographic changes in the U.S., especially the increasing diversity of our classrooms and workplaces, with growing Hispanic and Asian populations living in even very small communities, mean that all citizens need to know more about the cultures represented at school and at work. And, in an age when decisions made halfway around the world can sometimes have a far greater impact than decisions made by local town councils, American citizens will be called on to debate and vote on issues that require international knowledge. Moreover, as the richest and most powerful nation in the world, the United States is deeply involved in economic, political, and social events around the globe. Our own future is inextricably tied to the solution of many political and humanitarian crises. In short, the bright line between "domestic" and "international" is becoming blurred. American students need to become not only good citizens of the United States, but good citizens of the world.

These imperatives provide strong rationale for the public to increase its support for improving IE in our schools. The fact that such public will has taken root only sparsely is a challenge but does not diminish our belief in the strong potential for success, if planned and mobilized for correctly. Susan Bales affirms this and offers concrete suggestions for the necessary strengthening of the public will.

Social Strategy

Clearly there is a critical need for strategies that will modernize our schools to prepare students for the opportunities and challenges of the global age. Scholars and practitioners have long debated the efficacy of different change strategies -- from public information campaigns, to litigation, to social protest, to markets, and so on. John Gardner, former U.S. secretary of health, education, and welfare and founder of Common Cause and Independent Sector, argued that much social innovation in the United States proceeds in stages. Most innovations begin with small-scale experiments in local communities. Successful efforts begin to be emulated by other locales and, later, by pioneering states -- "the laboratories of our democracy." Once six to 10 states have adopted an approach and tested it on a larger scale, other states and the federal government will begin to act. Seen in this perspective, the increasing numbers of schools and states that are beginning to take up international education, as illustrated in the article by Ted Sanders and Vivien Stewart and by the sidebar on pages 234-35, is encouraging.

Still, we are at an early stage in the development of real capacity in the field of IE. What strategies would move reform from another round of "many calls, but little action" to more systematic development of IE on a nationwide scale? We believe that multiple strategies are needed to make meaningful change, particularly when the issues are latent and the stakes are high. To that end, and building on the recommendations offered in the preceding articles, we propose a set of broad strategic approaches, followed by more specific recommendations to build capacity in this field.

Strategies for Advancing International Education

In every social or educational movement, different sectors need to be mobilized. First, we must recognize that educators alone cannot enlist support for IE. Since the call for change in education often comes from the "demand" side (parents, students, and community members) rather than the "supply" side (the school system), governors and business leaders who understand how rapidly the world is changing need to communicate the long-term consequences of our failure to prepare students to adapt to these changes. Second, we need to build networks, both human and technological, that link the hundreds of grassroots local innovators, so that teachers and school leaders can learn from one another, share curriculum and resources, and begin to assess the effectiveness of different approaches.

Third, since states are in the forefront both of education reform and of responding to the challenges of globalization, policy makers need to create five-year plans to integrate IE into their education and economic policies and programs to ensure that their high school graduates are prepared for this global age. In doing so, state policy makers are likely to find willing partners in their corporate, university, cultural, and heritage communities. Fourth, at the national level, the President, Congress, and the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, and Education need to urgently connect our policies for advancing international relations and economic growth to our nation's education agenda.

Recommendations for Building Capacity in International Education

As the public will to improve IE increases and different sectors are mobilized, it will be important to build the capacity to deliver international education on a large scale. We have identified a set of four policy and program actions that will help to accomplish this objective.

An effective corps of teachers must be developed in every state to infuse all the core curriculum areas with international content. In the Sputnik era, our nation made an important commitment to science and math education via the National Science Foundation. A similar national commitment to prepare teachers to promote international knowledge and language skills is now needed. The Higher Education Act, due to be reauthorized next year, provides an important vehicle for modernizing teacher preparation and professional development. Allowing Title II and Title VI funds to create K-16 partnerships for international teaching excellence and to develop international professional development opportunities, including study abroad and online courses for teachers and school leaders, could create critical capacity for schools.

A K-16 pipeline for major world languages must be built. In the longer term, our education policies should encourage all students to learn a second language, as do those of other industrial countries. In the shorter term, our diplomatic and defense communities urgently need a K- 16 pipeline to produce proficient speakers of critical languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Farsi, and Russian. To increase our capacity to communicate in languages other than English, the federal government should provide serious incentives to begin language study earlier (elementary school), to promote innovative uses of technology, to conduct experiments with different approaches to language learning, to build on the language resources in our heritage communities, and to recruit and train teachers in less commonly taught languages.

We must leverage media and technology resources to bring the world to our students. In the last decade, billions of private and public sector dollars have been invested to wire schools, build Web resources, open the airwaves and TV spectrum to new channels, and broadcast high-quality media to schools and communities. However, all of this has had a negligible impact on children's and teachers' knowledge of the world outside our borders. Private and public resources in those areas must be leveraged to stimulate new international content in vehicles such as virtual high schools; to encourage school-to-school partnerships with schools in other parts of the world; to prime partnerships between universities, corporations, and K-12 schools; and to utilize public television and radio -- all to educate young Americans about the world.

International education must be incorporated into existing major education reform initiatives. Any definition of educational excellence in the 21st century must include international knowledge and skills. Therefore, a focus on IE needs to be infused into a range of federal and state domestic and international programs (e.g., vocational education and high school reform, literacy and after-school programs, leadership development, research, and international exchange). This would provide needed resources to bring to scale local best practices and to strengthen the knowledge base through research, data collection, and assessment of knowledge and progress.

Our purpose in editing this special section, and the forthcoming section to appear next year at this time, is to heighten awareness of international education and, we hope, to provoke the discourse that is necessary to move a thoughtful, strategic agenda forward. To return to Dr. Richmond's analysis of reform, our knowledge base is emerging, though far more intensive work is needed. The requisite ingredients for strengthening the public will -- the economic, security, and citizenship imperatives -- are present and should be quite powerful elicitors of public commitment to IE reform. Discerning how to move this agenda forward with multiple populations and constituents is in order, posthaste. Finally, with regard to strategy, we have discussed a range of both broad and specific approaches that might be used as springboards from which to create a more globally competent citizenry. It is to this end that this work is dedicated.

The issue of IE reform cries out for strong national leadership. It is deeply intertwined with the future prosperity and security of our nation. We are at a crossroads in our nation's social and intellectual history; this era's crisis, not even apparent to many, is one of inattention to changing needs in a new global age. It is one that stands begging for legitimacy and action.

1. Robert A. Scott, "Many Calls, Little Action: Global Illiteracy in the United States," keynote address at the National Language Conference: A Call to Action, Adelphi, Md., 22-24 June 2004.

2. John D. Heyl and JoAnn McCarthy, "International Education and Teacher Preparation in the U.S.," paper presented at Global Challenges and U.S. Higher Education: National Needs and Policy Implications, Duke University, Durham, N.C., 24 January 2003, and Ann I. Schneider, "The State of Teacher Training for K-12 International Education," paper presented at Global Challenges and U.S. Higher Education: National Needs and Policy Implications, Duke University, Durham, N.C., 24 January 2003.

3. David A. Hamburg, No More Killing Fields: Preventing Deadly Conflict (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, July 2002).

4. National Commission on Asia in the Schools, Asia in the Schools: Preparing Young Americans for Today's Interconnected World (New York: Asia Society, 2001).

5. National Geographic/Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey, November 2002.

6. Stephen R. Graubard, Public Scholarship: A New Perspective for the 21st Century (New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2004), p. 5.

7. "A Report of the Harvard College Curricular Review," Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, April 2004.

8. States Institute on International Education in the Schools Report (New York: Asia Society, 2003), p. 9.

9. "A Report of the Harvard College Curricular Review."

SHARON LYNN KAGAN is Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, co-director of the National Center for Children and Families, and associate dean for policy, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., as well as professor adjunct at the Child Study Center, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. VIVIEN STEWART is vice president for education programs, Asia Society, New York, N.Y.

Portraits of Pioneering Schools

The following schools were the inaugural recipients of the Goldman Sachs Foundation Prizes for Excellence in International Education in November 2003. They were selected from a national pool of applicants by a distinguished jury. Chosen for their innovation and effectiveness, these pioneering schools engage teachers and students in learning about other world regions, cultures, and languages.

John Stanford International School (JSIS) is a public K-5 bilingual- immersion school in Seattle. Opened in the fall of 2000, the school serves approximately 400 students; 41% of the student body is white, 29% Hispanic, 22% Asian or Pacific Islander, 7% African American, and 1% other.

The JSIS immersion program emphasizes attaining social and academic fluency in at least one world language -- students may elect to learn either Spanish or Japanese. Immersion teachers, or their assistants, must be native speakers. The concepts learned in core courses are reinforced in both English and the chosen foreign language. JSIS students spend half their days studying math, science, culture, and literacy in their chosen world language and the other half learning reading, writing, and social studies in English. International content appears across all curricular areas. A local arts organization provides artists in residence to teach students the language of world dance, music, and visual art.

JSIS serves as one of Seattle's centers for new immigrant students and offers instruction in English as a second language for children during school hours and evening courses for their parents. The school has demonstrated success both in language acquisition and academic achievement.

Partnerships with local international businesses, as well as curriculum support from the University of Washington, have helped the development of the school. A new partnership with a small school in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, has also been established. JSIS students have learned about the children of Puerta Vallarta's garbage pickers, have helped to raise money for their partner school, and have developed an ongoing relationship with it. In addition, the fifth grade has a virtual partnership with a school in Tanzania.

The John Stanford International School's aim is to "create a culturally diverse community of lifelong learners who demonstrate advanced skills in communication, international language, and technology, and whose performance exemplifies superior academic standards."

Evanston Township High School (ETHS) is a public school located in a Chicago suburb with a student body of just under 3,100; approximately 50% of the school's students are white, 38% African American, 7% Hispanic, and 5% other. In 1992 ETHS instituted a one-year international studies requirement for graduation. A team of teachers developed a series of interdisciplinary courses on the history, literature, and art of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Every student must enroll in at least two semesters of study of other world regions.

From the beginning, internationally oriented courses have developed in many departments. The school is particularly known for its simulation activities, in which students play the role of, for example, a participant in the Berlin Conference of 1885 or the founder of an NGO designed to address a contemporary world issue. Outside the classroom, students participate in extracurricular clubs, including Model United Nations, Islamic Culture Club, Tea Ceremony, and Amnesty International.

ETHS offers world language courses in Japanese, Hebrew, and Latin in addition to Spanish, French, and German. Technology is used to connect language classes to native speakers and for online discussions with students in other countries, such as Pakistan and Zimbabwe. The quality of the program stems from the school's commitment to professional development. The school has established relationships with area studies centers at three local universities and with the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations to give teachers access to scholarship and expertise. ETHS is recognized as a leading example of best practices in international education, featuring "teaching and learning" teams for curriculum development and emphasizing community outreach by students. In 2003 ETHS sponsored a Global Studies conference for schools in Illinois to share curriculum resources and teaching strategies. -- SLK and VS

International Studies Resource Guide

THE FOLLOWING is a list of websites that offer a variety of resources for international education, including classroom materials, professional development opportunities for educators, and international programs for students. Far from exhaustive, this list is a sampling of mostly non- commercial and not widely publicized organizations and programs that provide high-quality materials and instructional support for the K-12 audience. Please visit for a fuller list of curriculum resources, for information on travel and exchange programs for educators, and for updates on state policies and actions related to international education.

Curriculum Materials by Region


Africa in the Classroom

Michigan State University

Michigan State University's African Studies Center is possibly the largest research institute on Africa in the United States. The Africa in the Classroom website for teachers and students includes interdisciplinary modules, country profiles, student activities, and more. The center also produces information about Africa for scholars, policy makers, publishers, the media, foreign service officers, and the public.

African Studies Center

Boston University

The African Studies Center was established in 1953 as one of the first graduate programs in the United States to offer a multidisciplinary African Studies curriculum. Over the past decades, it has achieved international recognition for its commitment to teaching, research, and publications. The center offers professional development opportunities for teachers, some classroom resources (such as a teaching poster and bibliography), and an online tutorial that covers the geography, history, and politics of the countries on the African continent.

Center for African Studies

University of Illinois

Established in 1970, the Center for African Studies is one of the leading African Studies programs in the United States. It offers curriculum development workshops for teachers, grants, study trips, classroom presentations, a lending library, and downloadable classroom resources on African arts, culture, history, and, to a lesser extent, science. The site also features a virtual trade mission activity.


The Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP)

This site has many links to K-12 resources and information on Latin American countries, children's literature (many books in Spanish or Portuguese), and other international resources.

The International Studies Education Project


University of California, San Diego

ISTEP publishes a newsletter three times each year on teaching about Mexico. The site also features annotated links to print and multimedia instructional materials on Mexico.

Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC)

University of Texas

The LANIC website, developed by the University of Texas Institute of Latin American Studies, offers extensive links to K-12 resources on Latin America. It is a particularly good site for student Web searches and research.


Asia for Educators

Columbia University and

With contributions from renowned Asia scholars at Columbia and other universities, this site presents timelines, reading lists, and curriculum integration charts for visitors to peruse. The site also features interactive units with primary-source images and titles such as The Mongols in World History and The Tale of Genji. The site is focused mostly on East Asia and is appropriate for those teaching upper- secondary school or college prep.

Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS)

University of Illinois

AEMS is a searchable database of audiovisual resources on all regions of Asia and on Asia's interactions with other world areas. The site also features a selection of free teaching units, a catalog of selected resources for K-12 education, reviews of new and significant resources, and links to related sites.

AskAsia, Asia Society

This site features interdisciplinary classroom resources for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, all of which have been prepared and vetted by scholars or experts and tested in classrooms. The site offers readings, lesson plans, maps, and art images covering a broad range of topics and spanning the 30-plus countries that make up Asia. also serves as a portal site, linking the education community to resources on U.S./Asia business and current affairs.

Middle East

The Council on Islamic Education

The Council on Islamic Education provides services, resources, and research-based tools such as curriculum materials and professional development courses for teachers. The site also offers free background materials and teaching units rich with primary-source texts and images.

Outreach World

Outreach World is a new online community of the federally funded National Resource Centers on Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, and International Studies. Currently a pilot site focused mainly on the Middle East, has a searchable library of teaching and learning materials.

General International


United Nations

The CyberSchoolBus provides lesson plans and ideas for projects that emphasize social responsibility on global issues. Through the site, classrooms from around the world can work collaboratively on these projects. The site also includes links to UN documents and other sites for both teachers and students.

Foreign Policy Association

This site provides access to the Great Decisions curriculum, which includes annually updated facts, background information, and impartial analysis on current global issues -- including weapons of mass destruction, Middle East reform, Islam, the relationship between the United States and Europe, and the role of the media in democracies. Great Decisions is written by experts and edited by the Foreign Policy Association.

Globalization 101

Globalization 101 looks at the definition of globalization and the complex, often controversial issues surrounding it. While student- centered, the site includes teacher resources on such broad topics as health, trade, technology, migration, development, and more. The site includes an issues-analysis section as well as an "Ask an Expert" feature.

World in Transition

Southern Center for International Studies

The World in Transition series consists of instructional guides and accompanying videotapes covering seven world regions from geographic, economic, political, cultural, and environmental perspectives. The units can be ordered from this website of the Southern Center for International Studies, an affiliate of the World Affairs Council. To keep the units current, the center provides free downloadable updates.

Curriculum Materials by Subject

Social Studies

The American Forum for Global Education

The American Forum develops classroom resources, publishes reports on issues in international education, and organizes study tours and exchange programs for students and teachers. This site features free downloadable classroom materials.

Center for Teaching International Relations (CTIR)

University of Denver

CTIR develops curriculum materials for a variety of subject areas, including social studies, art, the environment, and language arts; conducts programs for middle and high school students; and teaches graduate-level inservice courses for K-12 educators. The center also makes available a wide range of publications, provides support for international schools, and produces the student program World Affairs Challenge. By following the publications link, teachers can preview and download sample lesson plans from some of CTIR's recently released resources.

Choices for the 21st Century Education Project

Brown University

This project of Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies strives to strengthen the American public's involvement in international issues. It offers a series of curriculum materials that address current and historical international issues and provides workshops for secondary school teachers.

Economics International

The international program of the National Council on Economic Education, supported primarily by the U.S. Department of Education, provides educational assistance to teachers in 21 countries that are transitioning to market economies and translates these experiences into resources to help teach American students lessons about the global economy.

Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR)

ESR helps educators work with young people to develop the social skills and the character they need to succeed in school and society. An important focus of ESR's work is to help students understand national and world conflicts and events. The site offers free lesson plans on the latest world crises and hot spots.

Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History offers curriculum materials and professional development programs on especially tragic periods of history, such as the genocides that occurred during the Holocaust and in Rwanda and Armenia; injustices toward African Americans throughout U.S. history; and exclusionary acts against Asian immigrants to the U.S. during WW II. The site features multimedia resources, study guides, an online teaching community, and links to other Web and print resources.

National Geographic Society

Xpeditions is the National Geographic Society's homepage for lesson plans and student activities. With thousands of classroom resources, including maps and images, teaching ideas, games, and homework help, Xpeditions helps learners of all ages understand other peoples, cultures, and places in the world within an overarching geographical framework.

Office of Resources for International and

Area Studies (ORIAS)

University of California, Berkeley

This is a joint program of the area studies centers at the University of California, Berkeley, that provides scholarly international studies resources and professional development for K-12 teachers. ORIAS offers Web-based resources and curriculum material, free workshops, tuition scholarships for professional development, a lending library for educators, and a visiting scholar program for teachers doing independent research.

Peace Corps World Wise Schools

Peace Corps volunteers and alumni contribute learning materials for teachers and students, including lesson plans, reports from around the world, and in-classroom presentations. Educators can incorporate these materials into existing units in subjects such as language arts, environmental education, and international economics or use them as the centerpiece of an interdisciplinary curriculum.

Programs in International Education Resources (PIER)

Yale University

PIER provides summer institutes, travel and field study opportunities, professional development workshops, onsite training programs, curriculum development and evaluation, online lesson plans, resource services, consulting, and clearinghouse services.

Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE)

Stanford University

As a program of Stanford University's Institute for International Studies, SPICE specializes in teacher seminars in curriculum and professional development, which focus on contemporary issues in the context of culture and history. The site offers over 100 curriculum units on Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the global environment, and international political economy. Curriculum materials feature significant primary-source images and texts. The site offers several free, downloadable curricula.

Language Arts

Beyond a Thousand and One Nights: A

Sampler of Literature from Muslim Civilization

Council on Islamic Education

Available on the CIE website, this excellent curriculum unit uses literature and art to explore contributions of Muslim peoples throughout world history. Although part of an online bookstore, this Web page allows users to download free three chapters ready for classroom use.


National Endowment for the Humanities

tab_lesson.asp?Subject Areas=4

EdSitement catalogues what are described as the best curriculum units and lesson plans available. The website's English language arts section, which is arranged alphabetically, offers a variety of teaching ideas and materials.

Math and Science

The GLOBE Program

GLOBE is a worldwide, hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science education program. Scientists, teachers, and students team up with international partners to teach and learn together through collaborative scientific investigations. GLOBE is a joint program of the U.S. State Department, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and Colorado State University.

The JASON Project

The JASON Project is an Internet-based, multidisciplinary program designed to stimulate students' analytical skills. Very international in scope, the program allows students to work with scientists who are dispatched to locations throughout the world to examine the earth's biological, geographical, and historical development.

Schlumberger Excellence in Educational

Development Project (SEED)

Scientists and engineers share their expertise with students from around the world in grade-appropriate articles and experiments. Students can conduct science projects and share results with international peers in seven languages -- Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and English -- through this site.


Asian Art Outlook

An online Asian art teaching guide that features masterpieces from Asia Society's Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, III Collection. The site includes downloadable teaching units, high-resolution images, historical maps, and more.

Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art's impressive collection includes art and artifacts from Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. The site includes an online collection that provides digital access to primary resources, as well as education programs that feature other classroom tools and professional development opportunities.

Japan Society Gallery

The Japan Society Gallery is an excellent source for researching and understanding Japanese art. Its education programs provide broad historical and cultural context for teachers and students. Its K-12- focused Journey Through Japan program offers an online interactive timeline and atlas, with photographs and digital copies of art masterpieces. The site also includes downloadable lesson plans, bibliographies, and other classroom resources.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

With one of the world's greatest collections of art and artifacts from around the globe, the Met offers on its website many programs, activities, workshops, and printed and electronic resources created for teachers and students. The site also includes images of more than 3,500 objects from the Met's collection and a timeline of art history.

Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

The Smithsonian Institution's online education center offers programs, services, and resources for teachers and students. This user-friendly website allows visitors to search by topic (see the Art & Design section), academic discipline, grade, or world region.

World Languages

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

ACTFL is dedicated to promoting foreign language and cultural studies as an integral component of American education and society. The organization conducts research and helps shape policy but also offers many useful resources for classroom teachers.

The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

CAL offers an array of services to educators working in bilingual education, English as a second language, and foreign language education.anduti, a CAL program, focuses on language learning in grades K-8.

The College Board

The College Board has recently announced a number of new Advanced Placement tests in world languages and cultures. Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and Russian courses and tests are currently being developed. Watch the website for more information, including study guides, course materials, and other testing tools.

FL Teach

The FL Teach website may be the most comprehensive collection of information about K-12 foreign language instruction and related resources available. The site provides an extraordinary annotated list of links to resources, organizations, and materials related to foreign language instruction, including language-specific resources.

The National Foreign Language Center (NFLC)

University of Maryland

The NFLC assists with language policy, planning, and model projects for language education.

National Foreign Language Resource Centers (NFLRC) resnfl.htm

NFLRCs are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and provide information, training, and resource materials for foreign language education. Some of these centers specialize in particular world regions or language groups.

The National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL)

NNELL focuses on language learning in grades K-8.

Professional Development

National Consortium for Teaching Asia (NCTA)

NCTA is a consortium of university-based Asia Studies centers that works with a broad network of teachers from nearly all U.S. states. The consortium facilitates teaching and learning about East Asia in world history, geography, social studies, and literature courses. The site features professional development and other related opportunities for teachers, organized by state, as well as many useful links.

Primary Source

Primary Source aims to strengthen teacher knowledge of world history through an interdisciplinary approach. The program works with universities and master teachers to provide graduate courses, seminars, and study tours for K-12 teachers and administrators, as well as curriculum development support and materials for school districts.

Title VI National Resource Centers

Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, provides for grants to higher education institutions to establish and operate language and area/international studies centers. These centers are resources for the teaching of modern foreign language; for instruction in related fields to provide full understanding of areas, regions, or countries in which the languages being taught are commonly used; for research and training in international studies; and for instruction and research on issues in world affairs. Although primarily focused on higher education, most centers offer professional development workshops for K-12 teachers.

World Affairs Councils

World Affairs Councils run school programs in conjunction with their local, regional, or statewide school systems. Services include curricular resources, Model UN programs and other simulations for students, teacher professional development, study abroad programs, career seminars, and more.


Friendship Through Education

This effort focuses on expanding links between U.S. schools and those in Islamic countries, including Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, and Bahrain, as well as in Afghan refugee camps. The program provides information on how students can connect with their peers in these countries to foster mutual respect and greater understanding of cultural differences through letters, e-mail, art, collaborative projects, and exchanges.

Global Nomads Group (GNG)

GNG helps schools connect with schools in other countries through videoconferencing. GNG can support schools by finding partner schools in other countries, planning curriculum and collaborative project ideas, and providing hardware and technology support. Exchanges can be as short as a one-time, one-hour videoconference or can develop to become a regular communications and learning tool among schools.

Global SchoolNet (GSN)

GSN has facilitated international online school partnerships for over a decade. It partners with schools, universities, and community and business organizations to develop free or low-cost programs to help students become internationally literate and responsible global citizens through international collaborative project work.

International Education and Resource Network (iEARN)

iEARN is a nonprofit organization made up of over 20,000 schools in over 100 countries. Since 1988, iEARN has pioneered online school linkages that enable students to engage in educational and service-learning projects with peers in their own countries and around the world. Approximately 750,000 to 1,000,000 students each day are engaged in collaborative project work worldwide.

Student Programs

The Capital Forum, Choices for the 21st Century

Brown University

The Capital Forum is an experiential civic education initiative designed to give high school students a voice in debates on current national and international issues, to raise awareness on global issues, and to develop a foundation for long-term civic engagement. The program involves students both within the social studies classroom and at their state capitol.

Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC)

Developed in 1991, EPIIC allows high school students to participate in a challenging, intellectual simulation on important international issues. EPIIC staff members work closely with schools to develop both the simulation topic and curriculum materials, covering such themes as "The Future of Democracy" or "Oil and Water." EPIIC has some 30 school partnerships in seven eastern and midwestern states.

Model UN

United Nations Association of the United States

In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors to debate current global issues. Student delegates prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, and resolve conflicts -- all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect every nation.

NetAid World Class

NetAid World Class is an educational role-play game designed for 8- to 12-year-old students. Each player assumes the identity of a child from India and confronts a number of obstacles in meeting basic needs, such as food, shelter, or attending school. Appropriate for classroom use, each kit comes with 32 child profiles. Also visit NetAid's kids' website at for student forums and activities.

World Affairs Challenge

An academic program designed to stimulate interest in and action on global affairs among middle and high school students. Recognized for its depth and substance, the program asks students to focus on real-world issues, spending up to 12 weeks on research and analysis before competing in Challenge events (similar to local and regional Model UN simulations). The program model encourages students to think critically, work collaboratively, and formulate solutions to authentic world problems. -- SLK and VS
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Author:Kagan, Sharon Lynn; Stewart, Vivien
Publication:Phi Delta Kappan
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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