MU Global Connect, a new undergraduate certificate in “Digital Global Studies,” will be available to undergraduate students for the first time this spring. Administered under the auspices of the MU Center for the Digital Globe, MU Global Connect will seek to prepare undergraduates for a new global reality by creating an understanding of globalization and digital technologies, School of Journalism doctoral candidate Giorgi Topouria said. Topouria is working alongside certificate program coordinator Monika Fischer, a professor in the Department of German & Russian Studies.
“Countries are increasingly more interconnected,” Topouria said. “The world is becoming more united in many ways and it affects every aspect of our lives. Therefore it requires a new skill set, a new understanding, a new attitude, new approaches. It’s become an essential skill set to have in order to find a job and be successful at a job. Throughout the world there is a trend of diving into (globalization) and trying to understand it better.”
The course will give students a competitive advantage in the marketplace and provide them with skill sets that employers will look for, Fischer said.
“It tells an employer that the student can function in a diverse workplace,” she said. “(It will provide skills such as) being able to work with people in a different background with a sense of understanding where they are coming from, understanding what tolerance means and being aware of global issues.”
The 15-credit-hour program focuses on a hands-on and interdisciplinary approach. Students from any major can enroll and the program will supplement students’ areas of interest, Topouria said.
“The way it is structured is that we have an intro seminar and then students relate it to their specific areas that they work in,” Topouria said. “Courses from existing majors and minors can be included so that it’s basically putting together what the students are doing in their major and minor and giving an additional dimension to it.”
The program will also address the digital component of globalization.
“The digital aspect is very important,” Topouria said. “These digital technologies have changed the communication environment. It is important to be well-versed in digital technologies.”
In addition to in-class learning, one of the goals of the program is to expand learning on an experiential level by pursuing existing and new study abroad, internship, volunteer work opportunities, Fischer said.
“The certificate is not just learning about global and digital issues, it’s really experiencing it,” Fischer said. “It’s looking at nonprofit organizations and learning about humanitarian aid and then hopefully going to places where programs are in place and seeing how is this carried out in the world. So really going out there in the world.”
Fischer said they hope that the program can help internationalize the campus.
“One of our goals is also to bring together the international students with the American students, and that’s not an easy task,” Fischer said. “Adding more international programs and adding course work that talks about global issues are ways to internationalize the campus.”
Once the program is underway, they will have a better sense of what kinds of students the certificate will attract, Fischer said.
“I’m curious to see who is going to sign up, what kind of majors and what kinds of students,” Fisher said.