Encouraging Young Women to Become Globally Conscious

Our world changes around us each and every day. As movers and shakers of technology companies brainstorm ways to implement software and apps into everyday life, we are continually offered new ways to engage with one another. This has brought the world closer together, transcending distance and time constraints that were present in the not too distant past. Today, someone in Pittsburgh can easily meet with a colleague in Beijing face-to-face over a hand-held smartphone.

With these technological advances also comes the responsibility of an increased global awareness. Education must prepare students to navigate this evolving world with intelligence, competence, poise, and grace. Oakland Catholic High School equips young women to understand the impact of global interconnectedness through the Global Competence Initiative (GCI) program. This intensive certificate program gives students the chance to engage with other cultures outside of the classroom setting, encouraging them to understand the importance of issues that impact humans cross culturally.

The GCI program was established in 2014 by Cindy McNulty, Oakland Catholic High School’s English Department Chair and Social Studies instructor. McNulty was inspired by the University of Pittsburgh’s Global Studies Center and her sabbatical travels. The GCI program requires two years of World History, one year of World Literature, Foreign Language proficiency, and a research paper paired with a public presentation. In addition, students must attend twelve “Encounters” and three “Engagements” throughout the four year program. Encounters consist of lectures, seminars, films, and cultural events. With Oakland Catholic High School prominently located in the heart of the educational and cultural center of Pittsburgh, there is no shortage of activities to get students engaged in the program. Lectures are readily found at two nearby higher education institutions – the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Engagements are different in that they provide a more intensive time investment, allowing students to connect on a deeper level with the international world. Examples of Engagements include international travel, the World Affairs Council Summer Institute, and the GCI Book Group. After each encounter and engagement, students must write a reflection on the event. They are encouraged to challenge their thinking outside of their immediate environment and cultural norms, putting emphasis on a broader understanding of the concerns and achievements that impact the broader world.

The Global Competence Initiative program uses technology on a regular basis to help students engage with material. Using the online learning management system Edmodo, participants in the program are notified of upcoming events. GCI Book Group discussion starts face-to-face and continues online outside of group meetings, allowing students to continually develop and share thoughts around the material.

The Global Competence Initiative program is another offering at Oakland Catholic High School that encourages young women to become globally conscious agents of change through immersion in cultural experiences and formulating thoughtful discussion on issues. The addition of technology into programs like this allows for engagement with the material on a higher level than what can be discussed or touched upon within normal time constraints. This allows students to have a deeper understanding of the world and effectively communicate with each other and with a broader cultural audience as they become tomorrow’s leaders.