A Curriculum for the 21st Century: Creating Global Citizens through Interdisciplinary Learning
Champlain College, a small 4-year baccalaureate institution in Burlington, VT, USA, redesigned its general education requirements with a sequence of eleven interdisciplinary courses in fall 2007. Its aim was not only to address the breadth of disciplines, but to understand them each in a contextual, meaningful way. These courses are thematic in approach, and model the inquiry-based method of learning. Students will cover the same eight disciplines with increasing rigor throughout the four-year sequence, as well as introducing additional disciplines where relevant. Students are asked to explore real-world challenges through the lens of psychology, philosophy, history, natural science, economics, sociology, literature and art through thematic courses such as 'Spirituality and Belief', 'Concepts of Community' and 'Scientific Revolutions'. In order to appropriately address the challenges of the 21st century, students need to not only explore an issue with an interdisciplinary approach, they also need to appreciate other cultures’ understandings of the same issues. The Champlain College Global Modules project is an online global-learning solution which allows for the free exchange of ideas and opinions between international students that can be incorporated into any class. Global Modules make international dialogue possible for every student, from every nation. Global Modules are designed around topics chosen to inspire focused discussion as the students are asked to work together to solve thematic challenges. Champlain students have discussed terrorism with Jordanians, women's issues with Moroccans, globalization with Indians, and more. Champlain has taken the unprecedented approach of embedding this type of discussion across the curriculum. This paper will cover our new interdisciplinary curriculum, with sound pedagogical methods supporting the new course design, meeting both the college’s learning outcomes and institutional assessments. The Global Modules Project will be discussed as an example of an innovative interdisciplinary approach to meeting the challenge of global learning in the classroom.
Keywords: International Education, Global Modules, Interdisciplinary Education
Dr. Gary Scudder
Professor of History, Champlain College
Dr. Jennifer Vincent
Assistant Professor of Economics, Champlain College