It isn’t just “famous people or folks living in major urban centers like Seattle who are globally affected and effective…”
Such appears to be the informal motto of Shoreline Community College’s Global Affairs Center (GAC) and its director, Dr. Lawrence (“Larry”) Fuell. When Larry speaks of the successes of Shoreline Community College’s Global Affairs Center, he tells them in stories. These stories highlight how Center programs drive students and community members to awareness and action regarding global issues.
Dr. Fuell describes Shoreline Community College students who, after attending the 2011 GAC Humanitarian Assistance Symposium, organized a community-wide computer drive for a local organization that provides computers to non-profit organizations abroad. He highlights students coming to him in the days following the 2010 Haiti earthquake asking that he coordinate a venue for the community to discuss relief efforts. The same thing happened this past April when students wanted to quickly arrange a discussion on the uprising in Libya. He details a student-created chapter of Amnesty International on campus – again spurred by a Global Affairs Center event.
Dr. Fuell seems excited but not surprised by the action that the Center’s programs stir. He chocks it up to the Center “finding and cultivating that sweet spot of student interest.”
From an outside perspective, what Shoreline Community College (SCC) is doing in terms of global engagement is extremely impressive. Dr. Fuell, a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer who teaches political science, created and currently directs the SCC Global Affairs Center, a “non-partisan program which strives to encourage critical thinking and engagement on global issues affecting global peace, prosperity and equity.” Just completing its third year of programming, the Center aims to stimulate critical thinking; encourage involvement; and show students, faculty and Shoreline community members that they can engage in global issues locally.
Dr. Fuell believes that global education– and thus the Center –must focus on four key pillars: awareness, engagement, collaboration through effective partnerships, and ongoing sustainable engagement that does not try to “reinvent the wheel.”
In addition to SCC students and faculty, the Center aims to reach community members. Events are widely promoted beyond SCC’s student body and often take place in the evenings and on weekends to ensure that community members can attend.
The Center’s programming focuses on symposiums, speaker events, campus town halls and small-group evening discussions. The topics of these events run the gamut of global issues. Programming in 2010/2011 included a symposium centered on the debate around immigration policy in the U.S. and Europe. The Center’s second annual International Humanitarian Assistance Symposium focused on how NGOs bring relief, development and equity to people around the globe. A series of events in commemoration of Earth Week focused on national and international policies regarding water, food, health and other environmental issues.
In 2009/2010 programming included discussions on US-China relations; a student-requested campus discussion on the Haiti earthquake; and a series of “Great Discussions”– weekly small group dialogues with community members, faculty and students centered on current foreign policy issues. Topics often attempt to connect SCC’s learning focuses with global issues. For example, a recent speaker from Guatemala with ties to the SCC nursing program, was able to engage nursing students, who might otherwise not engage in SCC’s global dialogue.
SCC hosts a number of other globally focused programs with which the GAC collaborates. SCC has one of the only community college study abroad programs, some of which have a service learning component. SCC also features an international studies track, which prepares students for a four-year college degree. Global Pathways is an SCC umbrella program that prepares students in and out of the classroom for globally focused post-college lives. Student clubs, such as the Worldly Philosophers and Dismal Scientists Society (WPDSS) club, often focuses on international political and economic issues.
There are numerous opportunities to engage with SCC’s Global Affairs Center. For those interested in attending a 2011/2012 program, speaking at an upcoming event, providing materials on a local organization or program, connecting with Shoreline area students, or finding out how to support the Center, please visit www.shoreline.edu/gac or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Center will host a symposium this fall that focuses on how life has changed since the tragic events of 9/11 (2001). According to Larry, the GAC will continue this next year to “reach beyond the choir” to students and community members who are not naturally interested in global issues or who do not automatically see their lives as globally relevant.
With the increasing importance of globally competent students and community members – particularly in Washington state – the efforts of SCC’s Global Affairs Center are critical. The GAC will continue striving to remind Shoreline community members and SCC students that, as Dr. Fuell puts it, “Washington is rich in global resources and NGOs…and you don’t have to go overseas to be globally involved.”