More than ever, the world is becoming an increasingly close social and economic global entity. Today’s students need to be well prepared to function and thrive within the context of the global economy. At Chatham, students get a leg up on their competition on this front thanks in part to the University’s award-winning Global Focus Program.
Launched in 1995, the Global Focus Program concentrates on one country, region or subject of global relevance each year, inviting the university community to study that country or subject through coursework, class assignments, campus events, community activities, overseas travels, co-curricular initiatives and service learning projects.
“When you are a Chatham undergrad, you do your four years here and get your bachelor’s degree, but you’ve also gained pretty deep knowledge of the culture, economics, and history of four countries or regions of the world,” said Dr. Jean-Jacques Sène, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and Global Focus Coordinator.
The Global Focus Program has designated 2016-2017 the Year of Canada. The second largest country in the world by size, with a history of relatively peaceful relations between First Nations and Euro-descendants, Canada’s standing in the global arena will only grow as the economic and strategic stakes centered around the Northwest Passage become more urgent.
The Global Focus program has two main criteria in selecting its yearly theme, according to Dr. Sène. “Number one it has to be a place that has some ‘clout’ in the world. Canada achieves that because of its First Nation status, the Northwest Passage and more,” he said. “Additionally, it has to have a physical presence in Pittsburgh with which our students can interact, and with more than 52 Canadian-owned companies in the Pittsburgh region, Canada has that as well.”
In the curriculum and beyond
One of the key elements of the Global Focus Program is full curricular integration, demonstrated through the All-Campus Author, which this year will feature Richard Wagamese’s book One Native Life. Wagamese is one of Canada’s foremost writers and storytellers, and members of the Canadian Native groups will visit Chatham throughout the year to discuss the book. All incoming first-year students take a communications seminar, which will feature this book. Three graduate courses also assign the book, offering the opportunity for grad students to visit the undergraduate sections for short presentations and to lead discussions.
One of the most recent events held as part of the Global Focus program is the Canadian Business Education Networking event, which featured the opportunity for students to interact with Pittsburgh area business leaders with Canadian connections at the Eden Hall Campus. A tour and networking opportunity were highlighted by speakers, including an appearance by Aafke Loney MBA ’11, who created Business and Education Connected LLC to connect students to current job markets through the integration of strength, discovery and interest awareness. Loney is also the co-owner of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms hockey team.
“Global focus puts the global in global studies,” said Dr. Sène. “The program teaches students critical thinking skills with global competencies. They also get to network and meet people they would never get to meet otherwise.”
The Global Focus Program has been a hallmark of the Chatham University experience since 1995. The Global Focus Year of the Communities of Islam received the 2002-2003 Institute of International Education’s Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education.