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The Daily Tar Heel

Vision is farsighted

Focus on University’s global prestige misguided

The University is preparing to draft a new academic plan. The last one was completed in 2003, and the new one will set the University’s goals for the next several years.

The last plan focused on internationalizing the University, and the new one probably will as well.

The push to internationalize seems to be more focused on increasing UNC’s prestige rather than preparing students for an increasingly interconnected world.

UNC’s 2003 academic plan set a goal to “Extend Carolina’s global presence, research and teaching.”

But merely increasing UNC’s name recognition and prestige, and even adding classes, doesn’t necessarily prepare students for a globalized world.

Students will only be adequately prepared for a globalized world if the University gives us more specific and deeper knowledge of other cultures — for example, requiring clusters of language, history and other classes around a particular region.

That student preparation should be the internationalization focus of the next academic plan.

The University needs to move from broad ideas to specific refinement.

The 2003 plan recommended that the University “build and integrate global issues and perspectives” into undergraduate curricula.

Thus far, the most direct difference I’ve seen is the “Connections” section on my academic worksheet.

In order to prepare students for a globalized world, the University needs to reform that section of the general education curriculum.

For better preparedness, students are going to need a curriculum that brings more than a general knowledge of global issues. We’re going to need a curriculum that actually helps us understand other cultures.

The University needs to keep this in mind as it prepares the next academic plan.

The language of the 2003 report needs to be replaced with student-centric proposals that change the way UNC students are educated about the world.

Nathaniel Haines is a senior journalism major from Charlotte. Contact Nathaniel at natehaines@gmail.com.

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