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  • Writer's pictureDave Taylor

Travel & Global Competencies

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

I am continually fascinated by how little many people know about the world outside of their own four walls. I recently watched a Jimmy Kimmel bit asking people on the street to identify countries on a map of the world… Yikes! It was embarrassing…. no, it was terrifying.

Watch for yourself and see what you think…

I am sure that they picked the worst answers for the clip… but, in general, many people have a limited knowledge of world geography, world events, and even less insight into the social and cultural aspects of many fascinating countries around the world.

It was very important to me to make sure that my children were well traveled at a young age to provide them with more insightful context and understanding for the many issues they would face in their own lives through exposure to a variety of global experiences. Filling their lives with enriching travel and unique memories rather than material things is a gift that can never be taken away, will never fade from memory, or be broken and thrown away over time.

Travel is an important aspect of life-long learning. When the benefits of travel are introduced at an early age, individuals are more likely to expand their travel ventures beyond the brand name hotels and dining at McDonald’s. Truly going beyond your travel comfort zone will result in opportunities for personal growth, not only through gaining knowledge of the global community, but building self-confidence, self-esteem, a sense of appreciation for who you are and what you have, gaining insights into your capacities, and developing an appreciation for cultural differences.

Many colleges and universities have recognized the educational and social benefits of global mobility as part of their academic programming, and the advantages that program-integrated global competencies will provide their graduates, as well as the significant rewards of involving staff in comprehensive internationalization strategies.


Elon University (USA)

“Seventy-eight percent of Elon graduates have at least one study abroad experience, and annually more than 1,400 students spend a semester or Winter Term studying in more than 110 programs in more than 50 countries.” (Shannalee Van Beek, staff, November 18, 2019)

Sweden develops new HE internationalisation strategy (Sweden)

“(Sweden) has set a goal to see 25% of students spending at least three months of their education abroad by 2025…”. (, posted by Claudia Civinini)

ERASMUS+ (European Union)

Many European universities have a mandated semester abroad requirement for graduation, and the European Union, through ERASMUS+ provides financial support for students. Recognizing that studying abroad contributes to improved communication, language and inter-cultural skills, and assists students with gaining important soft skills sought by future employers.

Univerista Di Bologna (Italy)

Providing a variety of global mobility opportunities for their students and staff building a rich learning environment of internationalization appreciation.

University of British Columbia (Canada)

“It demonstrates something about your grit and your ability to face different situations and to thrive.” (UBC President and vice-chancellor, Professor Santa Ono)

Niagara College (Canada)

“Be World Ready” program:

“This program offers you the opportunity to experience culturally diverse learning environments, understand different perspectives and connect practical skills with a global mindset to help you launch your career.” (Niagara College Canada – Be World Ready)


In Canada, three federal ministries have come together to support increasing global competencies for Canadians… the Minister of International Trade Diversification, the Minister of Workforce Development and Labour, and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship:

“International education is an essential pillar of Canada’s long-term competitiveness. Canadians who study abroad gain exposure to new cultures and ideas, stimulating innovation and developing important cross-cultural competencies.”

(The Honourable James Gordon Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification)

The development of a robust global mobility program is not a small undertaking. The logistics, financing, liabilities, legalities, partnerships, promotion, and commitment by students and college staff are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed to launch and sustain successful mobility programs.

Again, having a comprehensive internationalization strategy for your institution is critical to provide insights to institutional/departmental/program goals, and to identify areas of expertise that must be addressed, as well as the financial investments in a variety of resources that will be required.

Building partnerships with other educational institutions is a major aspect of developing a quality mobility program for a college. Selecting your partner institutions must be approached with significant analysis to ensure that your partnership relationship is consistent with your institution’s goals and values. Students will consider their global experience with the partner college as part of their eventual satisfaction with their program enrolment with their home institution, so select your international partners judiciously.

Lots to think about, but the move for educational institutions to build global competencies for their graduates and staff has become a vital component of every college’s strategic plan, and it is seen as an important aspect of future economic and social development by many governments around the world.

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