The Global Citizenship program, the brainchild of former Lehigh President Gregory Farrington, has been running at Lehigh for 10 years. However, there have been recent modifications made to the program, changing the nature of the application process.
The program began as a result of many engineering students being unable to go abroad for a semester due to a rigorous course load. While engineers were most likely to be working internationally post graduation, they were the least likely to have an international experience while undergraduates. The creation of the program gave them this opportunity.
The program considers itself a multi-disciplinary program that emphasizes ethics, values, and an idea of cultural awareness which lends to the concept of being a global citizen. Topics discussed are those with global impacts and have a wide range, which include social systems, climate change, population, globalization, religion and social justice.
The program encompasses business and engineering, however students from all colleges are welcome to apply. There is extensive preparation for international work as students take classes at Lehigh, participate in a scholarship-funded 10-14 day immersion program and are required to participate in an additional four week abroad program.
The immersion program is usually in a non-traditional location, many being in Latin America or Southeast Asia. Following all of these experiences, members receive a certificate in Global Citizenship.
The primary recent change to the program is in the application process. In previous years, students were required to apply to the program as incoming freshmen and did their immersion trip as first-year students. Now students apply in their first spring semester, allowing them to get a feel for Lehigh and the program before jumping into it.
“Delaying the start of the program will allow more students to find out about the program and make it more accessible to those who might not have otherwise applied,” said Sarah Berman, ’16, a member of the program.
A more technical change to the program is in the way classes are arranged. In years prior, students took a one credit practicum before the trip and a three-credit class after it. Now the courses are split up. There are two separate two-credit courses, one preceding the trip and one afterward.
This modification allows students to be enrolled in a Global Citizenship course as they are applying for the program. It also allows students who may not participate in the global immersion to still take the course.
While the transformations to the program have increased membership, current members convey a degree of trepidation regarding the changes.
“What was really important about (Global Citizenship) for me was that it encouraged students from all disciplines to think about issues of global citizenship,” Juan Palacio Moreno, ’17, said. “I am somewhat concerned that business students will see the Intro to Global Citizenship class as an obligation in their already busy class schedules and therefore would not realize the countless benefits this program offers. Although issues related to global warming and air pollution are vitally important, I hope that the program continues to focus on the human and political aspect of global citizenship while keeping in mind the more technical issues.”
Moreno said regardless he is excited about future groups of students involved in the program, as well as the support it receives from the university.
Mark Orrs, the interim director of the program, hopes the changes will give students the ability to hear other people’s perspectives throughout the colleges.
He hopes future candidates are “curious, passionate, eager, have a variety of different backgrounds in majors and nationalities, and with all types of diversity.”