Why International Studies?

Walking through the city at night

NEW YORK, August 5, 2008—Today's students are preparing for a world where success increasingly requires the ability to compete and cooperate on a global scale. Globalization has had a pervasive impact on the U.S. and other nation’s economies. Since 1990, 3 billion people in China, India, and Russia have moved from closed economies into a global one. One in five U.S. jobs is now tied to international trade—and the trend is rising.

As a recent report by the Committee on Economic Development states, "U.S. employers will increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries.” Economies and cultures are becoming more interconnected through technology, and the digitization of production is making it possible for people to do increasing amounts of work anywhere and anytime. Global production teams are becoming commonplace in business.

Health and security matters likewise cut across regional and cultural boundaries. In this highly interdependent world, virtually every major issue that people face – from global warming to terrorism—has an international dimension. In American schools and communities, world trends in migration and immigration have generated enormous cultural and linguistic diversity. For example, according to the California Department of Education, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, 56 languages are spoken.

This trend is mirrored in districts throughout the nation. Knowledge of other cultures will help students not just tolerate, but seek out opportunities to interact with classmates from different countries, a needed foundation for work and citizenship in the 21st century. American secondary schools must equip our students for the opportunities and challenges of globalization. Many countries in Europe and Asia are preparing students for the global age by raising levels of education attainment and college readiness, by emphasizing international knowledge, skills and language acquisition, and by fostering respect for other cultures.

To be successful global citizens, workers, and leaders, in addition to math, science, and technology education currently promoted by the United States, all students will need to be knowledgeable about the world, be able to communicate in languages other than English, and to be informed, active citizens.

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