Global Studies Book Club for Educators
The Institute for Global Studies offers a variety of professional development programs for teachers in the Twin Cities area. One new program, the IGS Book Club for Educators, began in spring 2016. The first semester focused on culture in African countries, while this fall the book club focused on cultures of Latin America. Led by Deborah Jane, IGS's outreach coordinator, this program offers award-winning educational resources for K-12 teachers.
Teachers participate in the IGS Book Club for Educators to learn how to help their students develop reading strategies and critical thinking skills. However, Jane describes the initiative as more than just a monthly book club. "We reach out and start important discussions. We emphasize facilitating a space where all knowledge can be shared," she says.
These readings offer teachers a way to integrate new perspectives into their curriculum by exposing students to different cultures from around the world. "Everyone learns from each others' different perspectives. It’s not just us lecturing to the attending teachers," Jane says. "We reflect on different cultures and how we can all learn from them."
With an audience ranging from kindergarten teachers to community college professors, this program has become very popular. Twenty-two teachers participated in the first discussion which was hosted in the Social Sciences building on the University of Minnesota campus. Teachers from many different disciplines attended, including Spanish, social studies, and English as a second language. The program has even received inquiries from communities that are too far away to commute. Jane is exploring options to make these seminars available online, including the use of Google Hangouts or Skype to engage various communities across the United States in the program.
This program is just one way the Institute for Global Studies "reflects the core values of the College of Liberal Arts," Jane says. "Because we are starting discussions on the global world and we are emphasizing diversity with a humanitarian focus, an element which lays at the heart of the CLA."