Loriell Louangamath, “All students should study abroad, practice cultural competence,” The Daily Evergreen, Accessed November 27, 2018.
In his seminal 1987 work, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, humanities scholar E.D. Hirsch, Jr., stated that ““the basic information needed to thrive in the modern world ” is a cultural literacy. While western society has long prided itself on the advances in pedagogy and devotion to public education, widespread literacy has nevertheless stagnated and in some cases declined. Hirsch posits that this epidemic is tied directly to a loss of cultural literacy that resulting in a declining “amount of shared knowledge .” The qualifier ‘shared’ is significant in this understanding, as it implies that at least a two-way street is established in the distribution of intellectual capital, rather than the standard teacher to student structure. Loss of truly shared knowledge means a deficiency in communication skills that enable consumption of broad, ‘general reader’ items—newspapers, books, periodicals.
An article by Washington Student University junior, Loriell Louangamath perfectly sets the stage and dilemma that Hirsch identified in 1987. Yet, she offers a direct solution: global curriculum and study. As seen throughout the semester among multiple classmates of mine in GRAD 5104, their are internationally multiple university systems and differing curriculum among places of higher education. If an eminent scholar cannot make the appeal more pervasively understood, then an undergraduate can: “globally engaged citizens” are best prepared for careers and human lifestyles.
An embrace of global curriculum is a two-way street, however, that cuts across the student-professor divide. “Directly experiencing other cultures” abroad, says Louangamath, promotes a literacy of respect, relatability, understanding, and awareness of true human diversity. In promoting WSU’s ‘Global Learning Center,’ and its connection with a global movement called ‘Generation Study Abroad,’ she provides a succint and easily understandable case that enhanced global perspectives of students and professors alike are not isolated to greater multiculturalism, but international manifestations of politics, social sructures, class divisions, gender relations, and race relations compared cross-nationally. Once embraced, sharing can commence, as cultural literacy is a prerequisite in every academic scenario; universities need global perspectives in knowledge, after all they would not achieve their role as institutions of learning that foster the ideal civic human being.
Hirsch, E.D., Jr. Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.