2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

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Thinking globally

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Susan Fuhrman

TC's President Susan Fuhrman

Even as Teachers College focuses on addressing the problems of inner-city schools and partnering with the school system here in New York, we must continue to think of ourselves as an international institution, constantly engaged in an exchange of ideas with the rest of the world.

There are so many good reasons why. First of all, Since TC's inception, the College's reputation for excellence has rested in part on its widespread activities in other countries. TC has - in two different eras - played a major role in building (and rebuilding) the education system in Afghanistan. Our ties with China extend back to the early 20th century, and today many of our faculty members do work there. There is a TC music education program in Taiwan, and our faculty have been active in parts of Africa as well. And, of course, international students have made up an ever greater proportion of our own student body.

On a more immediate level, in a world increasingly torn by clashes between cultures that misunderstand one another, educational exchanges may be our best hope for avoiding disaster.

Then, too, there is much we can teach other countries-'"and just as much that we can learn. Among leading democratic, industrialized nations, the U.S. is far from the pace-setter when it comes to the academic performance of our students. Particularly in math and science, we lag far behind many other countries. 

And finally, American schools - and perhaps New York City schools more than any other - are home to ever more students who are immigrants, children of immigrants or English Language Learners. If we don't understand the education systems in these students' countries of origin, how can we enable them to learn in our own schools and successfully integrate into American society?

All the more reason why the accreditation of the Teachers College campus in Japan, reported on the cover of this issue of Inside, is something to write home about - a huge plus for the College that takes us a big step further toward becoming a truly international institution. The Japan campus - home to our TESOL program there-'"has been in operation for 20 years, giving us a major foothold in eastern Asia. Now, with its new official status as a true branch campus, it gives us an even greater ability to understand, from the inside, other cultures of education; to function within the educational systems of those cultures; and to reap the benefits that come from doing so.

Our "new" branch campus is cause for celebration. Here's to planting the seeds for many more to come.

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