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How to create global citizens?

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Over the past fifteen years, higher education experts have come to recognize that universities have a responsibility to equip their students with the tools they need to work and live in a global context. When students acquire intercultural skills, they feel comfortable working and socializing with people from different cultures and countries and can take advantage of the kind of creativity that happens when people from different cultures work with each other.

A colleague from Tel Aviv University in the Department of Chemistry tells me that when her lab consists exclusively of Israeli students, they will do their job. But if Israeli students are joined by a German student, a Brazilian student and an Indian student, sparks fly, and real creativity is created. Each student brings to the lab or classroom a different cultural and academic world. To take full advantage of this diversity, students need to be equipped with multicultural collaboration skills.

But, after the corona, there is a growing recognition that the importance of the global toolbox goes beyond the personal success of our students. It is becoming increasingly clear that people around the world are connected to each other in every aspect of their lives. While the COVID-19 crisis, with its lockdown, travel bans and closures, has led to greater isolation, it has also led to an increased understanding of issues and difficulties shared by people around the world thanks to our shared vulnerability and ambiguity. The plague has shown that no country can cure the crisis on its own.

TAUi will host a live online seminar, on November 14 at 16:30 IST, where you can hear from leaders in academia, biotech and international diplomacy and learn how you too became a member of the global community. Click here to register.

In this sense, international education is becoming even more critical because these ties will become more significant in the world in the coming years. For these reasons, Tel Aviv University places great emphasis on providing opportunities for Israeli and international students alike for global education, interaction and a diverse cultural and linguistic perspective.

How do you provide an international toolbox for students today? For many years, this is usually done by studying Israeli students abroad for a semester and bringing students from their home countries to Tel Aviv. This method, although still important, is limited to those who have the economic ability to study abroad. Many Israeli students work during their studies and cannot take time off to study in other countries. But there are other ways to bring international flavor to campus without traveling abroad. One way is to present international curriculum that can broaden students’ horizons. Another way – which is perhaps one of Corona’s few positive byproducts – is to connect with international students around the world by integrating Classes Using Digital Platforms Over the past year, at Tel Aviv University, we have issued a call to our teachers to suggest ways to provide an international classroom experience of this kind.

We are currently conducting a number of exciting projects in collaboration with universities outside Israel that demonstrate this potential. We offer a social work class focusing on refugees and asylum seekers in both Israel and Germany. The virtual zoom class combines Israeli and German students who think about similar problems in different contexts. Another lesson focuses on discussing and resolving chronic water shortage situations in Israel and California, conducted virtually with students in both states.

In the end, however, at Tel Aviv University, the most important mechanism for creating a global toolbox and cultivating global citizenship, is to bring students from all over the world to Tel Aviv and integrate them into our classrooms together with Israeli students. We work hard to diversify our international student body and to create learning and social experiences for Israeli and international students to experience together.

These collective experiences can also address a question often asked after the Corona – why would students want to come to campus when they were used to studying online? Creating an international center on our campus enables students to have meaningful interactions with students from around the world. This is part of the campus experience that cannot be replaced with online teaching.

Tel Aviv University is committed to nurturing the next generation of global citizens, in Israel and abroad, who can work together to ensure the common good in the years to come.

Milt Shamir is the Vice President of International Cooperation at Tel Aviv University.

TAUi will host a live online seminar, on November 14 at 16:30 IST, where you can hear from leaders in academia, biotech and international diplomacy and learn how you too became a member of the global community. Click here to register.

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