Promoting Diversity as a World-changing Strategy

Diversity in higher education is a strategy that has been used for several institutions to promote peace and social justice, and one great example is the worldwide “Bridge. Connect. Act” (BCA) program who have now extended to basically all the United States. BCA is a program that facilitates abroad experiences within college students all around the world. It has study abroad programs with countries in almost all continents, and it works in a way in which a student from the US goes to study abroad in a different country while a student from that country goes to study abroad in the US.

What is most interesting about this program is that its vision goes beyond promoting diversity, but is is about changing the world with these types of experiences. It is a program that recognize that exposure to diversity enriches the educational experience, but it also aims that from those experiences, students get to understand other’s people’s beliefs, perspectives and even different lifestyles. And it is this understanding, according to BCA, that will help students to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions, to encourage critical thinking, and to become better citizens in an increasingly complex overall.

“BCA Study Abroad facilitates opportunities for growth in intercultural understanding and global awareness through educational programs that foster scholarship, community engagement and guided reflective learning.” (http://bcastudyabroad.org/)

BCA is a great illustration of how incorporating and promoting diversity in higher education can lead to build professionals with high values of mutual respect, tolerance and teamwork capacity. Which will contribute, ultimately, to build a better world.

 

4 Replies to “Promoting Diversity as a World-changing Strategy”

  1. What a great example! Thanks for sharing! I am really interested in finding ways to provide these types of experiences to all students even if they are not able to participate in a study abroad program. I think we should encourage all students to develop these perspectives, but there are a lot of factors that impact whether someone can study abroad. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on ways to incorporate this type of experience into a classroom setting!

  2. Study abroad or even just spending time getting to know people with other backgrounds is a huge benefit in education. unfortunately here in blacksburg we are only vaguely diverse, but its very easy to hide in your own circle of similar people. I think its worth going a step beyond encouraging study abroad and make it more of a significant requirement in programs just to give everyone that exposure.

  3. This is a really cool program and I agree that programs like this not only promote diversity but also help to engage people in the issues that effect society globally. Learning about different cultures and perspectives is important and parts of this can happen in a classroom, but other parts of this really need to happen in context. For this reason I think it is vital that people are given opportunities to travel with a focus on expanding awareness and perspective. I think it is important to be conscious of the difference between simply traveling for pleasure and actively trying to engage and understand different cultures and perspectives.

  4. Great example! Study abroad programs, if done well, are great opportunities for people to bond, mingle, and learn about other cultures. The first time I came to the US, to study abroad, I couldn’t even se the house phone. And not because technology was out of my league (Technology in Ecuador goes along with the US one); but because everything was new. I think these study abroad experiences helped me understand other cultures; which means that now I don’t get mad when other people don’t do what is “polite or correct” but I try to understand how culture impacts my perceptions about actions.

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