Students Discuss Ideas, Concerns about Global Education

By Nanxi You – November 24, 2014

Columbia Spectator

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY – Students talked about the Western focus of the Core Curriculum, travel opportunities for engineering students, and better integrating international students at a town hall held to discuss undergraduate global education on Thursday night.

The town hall was hosted by the Undergraduate Committee on Global Thought. Ideas and concerns raised during the town hall, which drew about 30 students, will be used in a forum in the spring with University President Lee Bollinger, who requested an undergraduate-focused event after last year’s Forum on Global Thought.

At Thursday’s discussion, some students said they had poor experiences with how the current Core Curriculum attempts to include a global focus. Students said that knowledge about the United States itself is an essential part of a global education.

“We’re trying to create this global thing, but the roots of the Core, which comes into question when we try to become more global, is to try to get to the core of what we are as a Western civilization,” attendee Andrew Pasquier, CC ’17, said. “But we don’t come from the same place anymore, as we’re pushing globalism. If you come from a non-Western perspective, the Core means something very different for you.”

Pasquier suggested that instead of a requirement to take two classes from a relatively large list, the Global Core requirement could be taught as a survey course.

Smita Sen, CC ’16, said that her Contemporary Civilization professor’s limited experience outside of Western philosophy limited the effectiveness of the course.

“My professor was a specialist in Western philosophy. When he had to teach the Quran, it was so flawed,” Sen said. “The problem in CC is that the professors don’t know how to deal with these texts. In order to preserve the integrity of what you’re discussing, you have to have someone who’s a specialist in that field.”

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