20 SES 04, Migrant Children Social Settings and Development of Global Competencies for Graduate Students and Intercultural Citizenship
The context of this study is an international collaborative project funded by the US National Science Foundation to “initiate a cultural shift in our individual and university research and education programs toward developing international research competence and building capacity through global partnerships”. Its research focus is whether effective, geographically appropriate, and culturally relevant engineered systems can be established that utilize wastewater as a resource for recovery of energy, water, and nutrients. A significant part of the program is for graduate students to travel overseas to gain global competency by helping to develop collaborations with local institutions and communities. The purpose of our study is to uncover the effects of the participation in international experiences on the engineering students: What types of knowledge and skills do the students develop and how are they related to the development of global competency needed to function in international research partnerships? What affects do the experiences have on their conceptions of sustainability?
There is a call for the engineers to be educated so that they develop global competency (NAE, 2009; NRC, 2009). Global competency consists of having “(1) language and cultural skills, (2) teamwork and group dynamics skills, (3) knowledge of the business and engineering cultures of counterpart countries, and (4) knowledge of international variations in engineering education and practice” (NRC, 1993, p.63) needed to work effectively in a range of settings and work environments. Few studies have examined engineering students’ development of global competency; however, they support the importance of international experiences for the development of global competency (e.g., Shen, Jesiek, & Chang, 2011; Yu, 2012).
To Munro and Holdgate (1991) sustainable development is “improving the quality of life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems” (p. 10). The definition we use begins with this and adds the complexities in which the “three pillars” of sustainability -- economic, social and environmental factors – as well as political (Bentham, 2013) and technical (Mihelcic et al., 2003) factors need to be considered systemically.
The results of our study show that for the students their overseas experiences were significant and transformative. The students developed skills needed for global competency including awareness about the importance of developing collaborative partnerships; the host culture norms and language; how to work in different laboratories facilities that do not have many resources and materials; and how to work with different researchers, scientists, professors, students, and members of the community who define and solve problems in different ways. In addition, the international experiences resulted in their gaining a broader definition of sustainability and sustainable development.
Bentham, H., Sinnes, A., & Gjøtterud, S. (2014). Exploring the priorities of teacher education related policies: An education for sustainable development perspective. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 12(1), 321-360. Fantini, A., & Tirmizi, A. (2006). Exploring and assessing intercultural competence. World Learning Publications. http://digitalcollections.sit.edu/worldlearning_publications/1 Gall, M.D., Gall, J.P., & Borg, W.R. (2007). Educational research: An introduction (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson Publications. Mihelcic, J R, Crittenden, J C, Small, M J, Shonnard, D R, Hokanson, D R, Zhang, Q, . . . Sutherland, J W. (2003). Sustainability science and engineering: the emergence of a new metadiscipline. Environmental Science & Technology, 37(23), 5314-5324. Munro, D. A., & Holdgate, M. W. (1991). Caring for the earth: A strategy for sustainable living. London: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. NAE. (2004). The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. NRC. (1999). Engineering Tasks for the New Century:Japanese and U.S. Perspectives: National Academies Press. Onwuegbuzie, A. J, & Collins, K. M. T. (2007). A typology of mixed methods sampling designs in social science research. The Qualitative Report, 12, 281-316. Shen, Y., Jesiek, B. K., & Chang, Y. (2011). Cultural orientation and global competency: A comparative assessment of engineering students. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, Vancouver, Canada, June 26–29. Thompson, J., & Jesiek, B. (2010). Assessing the intercultural competence among sophomore mechanical engineering students: Baseline data and analysis. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, Louisville, KY, June 20–23. Yu, H. (2012). A Study of Engineering Students’ Intercultural Competence and Its Implications for Teaching. IEEE Transactions On Professional Communication, 55(2), 185-201.
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