Friday, October 26, 2012

Celebrating an International Partnership

By Mary Lynne Calhoun
Dean, College of Education

An 18th century baroque palace was the setting of an international discussion on 21st century education policy among delegations from Russia, Israel, Japan, China, the United States, and Germany, Oct. 10-11.  The occasion was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Ludwigsburg University of Education (Germany) through a gathering of the university’s international partners.

A global audience considered Obama, Romney views.
UNC Charlotte Provost Joan Lorden and I joined delegates from institutions including the University of Yamanashi (Japan), Beit Berl College (Israel), Samara State Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities (Russia), Tianjin Normal University (China) and UNC Pembroke (USA).

Each participating university was asked to present educational policy issues of importance in their own country.  Joan and I made our presentation through a mock presidential debate based on the education platforms of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

All of the participating universities have a substantive role in teacher education in their state or nation, and though there were many differences among the institutions, our conversations circled back to very similar interests and concerns. Global competitiveness, teacher shortages in mathematics, science, and special education, and the relationship of teacher education to the broader university emerged as common themes. Concerns about rising tuition costs and rising student debt also crossed international boundaries, as did the demand for universities to become more efficient and more accountable.

The power of international partnerships in teacher education was affirmed through the universities’ shared commitment to prepare teachers with global perspectives.

The Ludwigsburg University of Education is one of UNC Charlotte’s most established international partnerships. Student and faculty exchanges between the two universities began over 30 years ago; since then more than 300 students have participated in exchange programs between the institutions.

The author (right), with Joan Lorden (left) and colleague.

The Ludwigsburg University is part of a major education reform initiative within the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, helping the state move toward a comprehensive school system and away from a system of separate schools for pupils with different ability levels.

The UNC Charlotte-Ludwigsburg University of Education partnership has expanded to include an annual faculty symposium designed to highlight cross-cultural education issues and to share findings from collaborative research projects.  Three groups of UNC Charlotte elementary education majors and faculty have studied at Ludwigsburg for a full semester to explore international issues and practices in teacher education.

Engagement such as this extends UNC Charlotte's global reach and burnishes our reputation for high quality, high value education on a global stage.
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