High school students in Wisconsin will be eligible as early as this year to earn a new global studies certificate, the state Department of Public Instruction announced Wednesday.
The Global Scholars program can be voluntarily adopted by school districts across the state and will allow high schools to award the Global Education Achievement Certificate.
The certificate — which the state says is the first of its kind in the country — will be awarded to students who demonstrate their global competency through coursework and extracurricular activities, according to Gerhard Fischer, international and world languages education consultant for the DPI.
School districts will determine the criteria for global competency, said Gilles Bousquet, chairman of the statewide International Education Council, a backer of the policy.
Each district will use its current courses — literature, foreign language, history, geography, mathematics, science, and the arts — to create district-specific criteria that works within DPI’s model for the certificate.
In order to receive the certificate a student must take at least eight credits with a global focus, with at least four credits or classes coming from a foreign language class. The students must also complete eight reviews or reflections on international or cultural media, at least four of them books, participate in four high school extracurricular or school-organized activities with a global theme, and complete 20 hours of community service tied to a global community or issue.
“It doesn’t hurt to know something about the world,” Fischer said. “What we’re trying to do with this is focus more of our attention on a broader, international dimension.”
Bousquet said the program allows students to think globally and prepare for life in and after college.
“It gives some incentives for students to work towards the certificate and really learn more about the world,” Bousquet said. “It allows them to be more aware of global issues and also be more aware of how the world interacts in our own backyard.”
The policy has been in the works since February 2012.
Fischer and a committee of 12 educators and administrators developed the policy that will use existing resources and come free of cost to the districts, unless an additional resource is needed.
In order for schools to award the certificate, districts must show the DPI the curriculum that will be used. Some schools might already have the required coursework and could begin the program this year, however Fischer anticipates the majority of this year to be used to “roll out information” with the following year as the kickoff.