Reaching Out to the World | Teachers College Columbia University

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Reaching Out to the World

In the President's Letter, Susan Fuhrman says, "Education today is among the most important of global issues and perhaps the global form of currency."
International education has always been central to Teachers College—a fact I’m reminded of every time I sit down at my desk, which first belonged to TC’s great early dean, James Earl Russell. As a young man, Russell studied education systems in Europe and went on to create the field of comparative international education.
Because of Russell, John Dewey, Paul Monroe and many others, the College’s work—from preparing teachers to understand the cultural frames of reference of immigrant children to rebuilding education systems in war-torn countries—has been intimately bound up with other cultures and societies. Earlier on, that involvement primarily took the form of exporting our knowledge and expertise. Today, however, we recognize that we have as much or more to learn as we do to teach, and we view our international efforts as a vital source of information about other cultures and education systems. Our interest is intensely practical, for the emergence of the global economy clearly demands a skilled workforce, necessitating the education of all children to high standards. New advances in understanding how children learn have dictated new approaches not only to teaching and teacher preparation, but also to curricula, education technology and other areas of schooling—and, as well, to a greater focus on understanding students in the context of their physical and emotional health and their family and community life.
As a result, education today is among the most important of global issues and is perhaps the global form of currency. That is why, at Teachers College, we are redoubling our focus on international education across our three main areas of education, health and psychology. It also is why we asked TC alumnus Naif Al-Mutawa to create our cover image for this special issue of TC Today. A practicing psychologist with expertise in conflict resolution, Al-Mutawa is the creator of the comic book series “The 99,” in which superheroes work across cultures and countries to prevent violence and protect the world.
Also in this special issue, you’ll find out more about TC’s international history; about our efforts to transform the role of China’s art museums and to help millions of poorer Chinese students afford school; about our unique focus in the related areas of conflict resolution and peace education; about the work of TC anthropologist George Bond in reconstructing the narratives of oppressed peoples; about the efforts of our TESOL program to help other nations train new generations in the teaching of English; and about our work in bringing speech and language pathology expertise to Bolivia, Ghana and Cambodia. And you’ll meet the College’s first Director of International Affairs and learn about her vision for our future international efforts.
In all, this is a hugely exciting time at the College and in international education in general. Our efforts are constantly evolving, but one thing is certain: our connections with other nations will only become more important—and education will increasingly be the means for strengthening them.
Susan Fuhrman
To view President Fuhrman’s recent special message on Teachers College and the economy, visit the TC Web site:

Published Monday, Jun. 22, 2009