December 17, 2017

Webster University seeking new Global Citizenship Program director

Webster University’s Global Citizenship Program (GCP) is meant to provide students with extensive skills to become more aware of the world. Carla Colletti said the GCP program brings students a step closer to being global citizens.

The GCP program currently requires a first year seminar and keystone seminar to be completed in order to obtain a degree. It also requires 24 credit hours in knowledge and skill requirements. Some of these skill requirements include ethical reasoning, critical thinking and oral communication.

As a member of the GCP Committee, Colletti believes these skills align with Webster’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“One of the skill areas is ethical reasoning,” Colletti said. “Being able to take something and think about it with empathy. How does it affect others around me? What does it do to others around me?”

The GCP Committee is looking for applicants to be GCP director for a three year term starting June 2018. The new GCP director will be in charge of coordinating, overseeing and improving the GCP program. The GCP director will report directly to the provost and senior vice president.

Colletti said the ideal candidate would be an existing faculty member who is familiar with the structure of the GCP program. The deadline for applicants is Dec. 1.

“Anyone who is interested can apply to the committee,” Colletti said. “Then the committee will go through the applicant pool, and recommend a selection to the provost. Then the provost will make a decision.”

Bruce Umbaugh has served as the GCP director since the program was instituted in 2011. He said communicating to students, faculty and advisors is the biggest challenge of his job.

“I think the program, from the evidence we have in our assessment, really does improve students knowledge and skills,” Umbaugh said. “It prepares them with the core competencies they need for responsible global citizenship in the 21st century, which is the mission of the program.”

Kayla Sheppard said she hears complaints from students who do not understand the value of the GCP program. Sheppard is the Senator of the School of Communications for the Student Government Association (SGA). She said she spoke with both students about the importance of the GCP program, and with faculty about the students concerns.

“I definitely think the GCP helps me be a more well rounded person,” Sheppard said. “I understand why we have the GCP to have a global understanding of things. That’s the whole point.”

The university’s website states the GCP program is designed to help students prepare to confront global problems and 21st-century problems.

Colletti is an associate professor of music and serves as director of graduate studies and music theory. She said she enjoys teaching international students because she can learn from their experiences and the education system of their home countries.

“It’s all a learning experience and I want to help students,” Colletti said. “Don’t be afraid to help someone outside of what you grew up with. What can you learn from that person?”

Sheppard said SGA plans to talk to the new GCP director during the spring delegates agenda. She said she hopes academic advisors can better explain the importance of the GCP program and what classes are available.

“Right now, the different committees are working on these issues,” Sheppard said. “I can’t say it is done right now, but it is in the process of getting it complete.”

Umbaugh said the committee evaluated how the program has worked in the past and is  in the process of considering changes to the program. He also said he works with transfer students to help them fit their existing credits into the GCP.

“A year or so ago, an undergraduate did a research project and found that more than 70 percent of undergraduates understood the GCP project, and that was encouraging,” Umbaugh said. “I often hear from prospective students that they are attracted to Webster because of the GCP, and that’s encouraging too.”

Colletti said any changes to the GCP program will be up to recommendations the committee makes to the director, who will have the final say. She also said the committee is open to hear any suggestions that could improve the GCP program.

“If any faculty member wants to put a course in the GCP program, there is a proposal process,” Colletti said. “Departments can decide to put forth their courses to be included in the GCP. They can also decide the course they coded is teaching a different knowledge area or different course. So they can take a course from the program at any time.”

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