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What is Global Awareness and Why Does it Matter?

Miniature earth made of paper mache with a graduation cap that represents global awareness.

Global awareness in the classroom involves teaching students about different nations and cultures, as well as their civic duties and rights both locally and globally. An ability to understand, respect and work well with people from diverse cultures is increasingly important for social and academic success in an interconnected world.

The idea behind global awareness is to create global citizens who are open to those raised in different countries, cultures and religious settings. For teachers, it’s an opportunity to open students’ eyes to how everyday decisions in their own lives can impact the lives of people around the globe.

Why Is Global Awareness Important?

The world is as big as it ever was, but it certainly can feel smaller—especially to the new generation of students—because of the power of the internet and global communications. What happens in faraway countries can seem as close as what happens across town.

The guiding principle behind global awareness is to create a more peaceful and just society. Doing so requires an understanding of people from other backgrounds and cultures. Teachers can have one of the strongest impacts on young people in achieving that goal.

Global Awareness in the Classroom

Global awareness has become such an important issue that teachers now have the opportunity to learn about it in formal classes.

For example, Fresno Pacific University, which offers hundreds of continuing education and independent studies courses for teachers, has many courses for teachers that incorporate global awareness. They indicate not only the importance of global awareness but its widespread adoption in many different areas of education.

For example, global awareness is a part of the following diverse courses for teachers. In each case, the idea is to support teachers in developing models that teach cultural understanding and global awareness and “promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.”

That’s just a sample. The point is, global awareness, particularly as it relates to web-based learning, is a key factor when teaching students across a wide variety of subjects.

Ways to Incorporate Global Awareness in the Classroom

Part of the focus on global awareness springs from the fact that in the past, it hasn’t always been done well in the U.S. A Rand Corporation survey conducted a decade ago found that international corporations felt that U.S. college graduates were “strong technically” but “short-changed” in a cross-cultural experience.

Now, the emphasis is on starting students while they are young in their understanding of the interlocking nature of cultures around the world. While teachers can’t do the job on their own, they certainly can have a strong, positive impact.

These are just some of the educational areas where global awareness can be incorporated.


Reading is one of the best ways to immerse students in another culture. A diverse set of American authors is an important part of this process. Another is incorporating literature that is written by authors from other countries or set in those countries.

Foreign Language Skills

Even if they cannot speak a second language fluently, it’s important for students to develop some skills in at least one language other than English. Learning a second language opens students to see the world from a different point of view.

Knowledge in Comparative Fields

Teaching students in comparative fields such as world history, anthropology, political science, economics, and trade offers them a chance to understand issues that have international implications.

Openness and Positivity

To learn about other cultures, students must have an open mind and a positive attitude. At the very least, students should have a tolerance of other cultures. Better yet, they develop deeper understanding that allows them to both overcome cross-cultural differences and develop empathy and trust for those from other cultures.

Global awareness will continue to gain importance as the world “gets smaller” and more people of diverse cultures migrate around the world. Given that reality, it’s a key area for teachers to build strong skills.

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