Global Institute for Building Better Schools
We are on the threshold of a new world in which it will no longer be possible to understand or address the educational needs of any society within the narrow context of an inherited or fixed national identity and culture. The global movement toward democracy, free market economies, and multicultural societies could potentially reshape the character of communities and lives of people worldwide. Transformative events from every area of the world—Chernobyl, the fall of communism in the former Soviet bloc, the enactments of NAFTA and GATT, the transition to post-apartheid South Africa, the rise of the World Wide Web connecting humanity, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the fierce competition for oil among a growing number of nations—remind us that the world is quickly becoming a smaller and smaller place in which to live. This new globalism makes it imperative for all nations to expand the intercultural-international dimensions of their educational institutions, businesses, government agencies, and communities—with an eye toward preparing their citizens and communities for more integrated and interdependent economies and societies of the future.
It is significant, therefore, that GIBBS is designed to embrace diversity in education within a global context—with the aim of building better schools by preparing a new and more diverse generation of teachers and educational leaders who possess the international and cross-cultural perspective that is essential to build, steward, and serve the educational systems and institutions of the future, both at home and abroad.
Because the global village has come of age, the youth of all countries must now acquire the intercultural skills and competencies to function effectively—and they must, therefore, also be afforded a chance to recreate their society and their relationships with the rest of the world. More than ever, primary and secondary schools throughout the world must cultivate in their students a deep-rooted understanding of, and appreciation for, other languages, diverse cultures and value systems, and issues that are domestic as well as global—poverty, human rights, child welfare, economic growth and competition, environmental pollution, climate change, natural resources preservation, terrorism, nuclear weapons, and social justice and peace.
In the U.S., for example, so much of our success depends on events taking place elsewhere in the world—or in the isolated realities of our nation's diverse intercultural communities—that it is now impossible to attend to our domestic needs without an understanding of their intercultural and international context. At a minimum, then, we must encourage and enable American youth to bring about greater intercultural harmony throughout the U.S. by acquiring a greater understanding of different cultures both at home and abroad. This requires us to rethink and ultimately to change what is taught in our nation's primary and secondary schools, how it is taught, and who teaches it. All the nations of the world confront similar challenges for their own youth, and they must therefore be active participants in the unique and urgently needed work of GIBBS, which is to build better schools for the increasingly diverse societies of the future.