The tradition of sending students abroad while in university has evolved substantially in recent decades, from educational trips during the holidays to study programs intensive for a semester or a year. William Hoffa points out in his book A History of Study Abroad that all trips "have educational potential" regardless of their content or purpose. While there is no debate that an international experience has any value, there is an emerging dialogue about what the ultimate goal or purpose of studying abroad should be beyond mere exposure to cultures outside of the culture of origin. Is the exhibition alone the ultimate goal? Does the definition of study abroad as a global experience limit its value-added impact on key results for students? Does our traditional vision of studying abroad create a disconnect between academic, professional and global activities for our students?
In an attempt to answer these questions, many schools consider that studying Abroad is an opportunity for professional and academic integration instead of a one-dimensional global experience. This means that the goal for colleges and universities should not only be to increase the number of students traveling and / or take classes internationally, but also to examine the ways in which a meaningful global experience extends the knowledge acquired in the classroom and prepares to the students. Be global professionals upon graduation. Professional integration means that academic, global and professional development experiences are provided as a coordinated effort to prepare students who are globally prepared for their professional and personal lives.
At first glance, this may seem like an idea without controversy. Why would anyone oppose the efforts that prepare students to be globally prepared professionals and knowledgeable citizens of the world? However, a focus on professional integration highlights the division in the higher education community about whether education itself or employability is the ultimate goal of a university education. This dichotomy may be driven by the ongoing discussion about the cost of a university education and the correlated measures that attempt to quantify the return on that investment. The great attention given to the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has generated a negative reaction in which the humanists are defending the importance of the liberal arts and general education and are labeling the professional titles as simply " focused on work "" Or of a vocational nature. "
However, what is lacking in this dialogue is a clear understanding of what employability requires, especially when preparing students for what is clearly a global workplace The skills that define the employability of students include not only skills in the workplace (for example, problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution) and academic knowledge (eg , experience in the subject), but also personal skills (for example, initiative, integrity) and personal skills (for example, , communication, teamwork). Whether we are seeing the global experience through study abroad, the content of the curriculum through the choice of an academic specialization or professional development through internships, all aspects of the education experience of undergraduate students must work together to prepare the student to become a professional and a world-wide world prepared knowledgeable citizen We diminish the abilities of our students to understand, connect and communicate the ways in which what is learned in the classroom connects with what is experienced outside the classroom when we focus on the gap and do not adopt a more integrated approach.
Therefore, we must eliminate each and every one of the stigmas associated with the word "employability" in our discussions about undergraduate educational outcomes. Regardless of the academic specialty of each, each student will eventually be employed, whether in the public sector, nonprofit or private, or if you choose to become an entrepreneur or owner of a business. At Pitt Business, we have developed the Global Business Institute as a key part of an academic portfolio designed to integrate classroom experience with international internships, service learning opportunities and meaningful cultural experiences. Understanding the key drivers of global employability should not detract from all aspects of undergraduate education. The better we are at providing an integrated set of academic, professional and global experiences for our students, the more value added it will be for their immediate educational experiences and their lifelong professional endeavors.