The Global Competence Initiative

The Global Competence Initiative

Marielle Gleason ‘16 and Stephanie Harrington ‘16

Global competence is defined as, “[t]he ability to communicate effectively across cultural and linguistic barriers and to focus on issues that transcend cultures and continents.” The Global Competence Initiative, a national trend, will train the around 70 sophomores and freshman at Oakland Catholic that are participating in the program to become more aware of the customs and beliefs of foreign cultures. With the knowledge gained from her sabbatical and the aid of the University of Pittsburgh Global and Asian Studies Programs, Ms. McNulty has adapted this program to build upon what Oakland Catholic already offers.

Ms. McNulty explains the importance of global competence: “You are going to live and work in a very multinational, multicultural environment.” She especially stresses the importance of cultural understanding in the workplace. “If your Muslim counterpart is cranky, it’s because it’s Ramadan,” she gives as a scenario. (Ramadan, for those that don’t know, is an annual month of fasting observed by Muslims worldwide.)

In order to a obtain a certificate in Global Competence, a student must be willing to put forth a great deal of effort. The academic requirements include completing two years of World History, one year of World Literature, three science classes, language classes, and a research paper with a public presentation. Luckily, the research paper will not require outside work for the students taking part in the Initiative because it is a graduation requirement. The paper must be on an approved international topic and can be completed in either AP Human Geography or as the interdisciplinary paper. Ms. McNulty stressed that participants do not have to be in honors or AP classes in order to successfully complete the program; anyone can participate. In addition to academic requirements, students are required to attend a total of 12 “encounters,” which include lectures, presentations, exhibits, and films, and three engagements over the course of four years. Engagements can include world travel or volunteer activities, yet these opportunities are not available to every student. If this is the case, students can take part in the Global Competence Initiative’s Book Group, which is having students read Little Princes this year.An encounter can be earned in the second quarter by students who take part in online and face-to-face discussions on the book. As a plus to those who are JOA students, encounters and engagements can also simultaneously serve as JOA intellectual events.

Students can benefit tremendously from becoming globally competent. Not only is it a great element to include on a college application, but students will prosper in the increasingly diverse work field due to the knowledge they will have gained. Madelyn Human, a freshman who attended a lecture about the current issues in Iran said, “It was a very eye-opening experience. This generation doesn’t know a lot about what’s going on outside of our little world.” Human chose to be part of this program not only because it looks good on a college application, but because she hopes it will aid in improving herself as a person. “I want to be well-rounded,” she stated. Thanks to the Global Competence Initiative, students like Madelyn are given the chance to develop as well-rounded, informed, and competent individuals.