Global Connect is an original educational partnership developed by UCI's School of Social Sciences to enrich California's secondary school curriculum in international studies. This is accomplished by translating current university-level concepts and knowledge into a curriculum that is age appropriate for high school students. The global studies knowledge gap in our public schools is a critical problem that needs a flexible and immediate response. Students need lessons they can relate to as global citizens that will affect how they see themselves in the world. They must be capable of thinking in an international perspective to succeed in their respective lives and careers so that they may contribute to the general welfare of society. This cannot be achieved through textbook curriculum that is outdated by the time it is received by students. Teachers cannot abandon their classroom responsibilities to acquire current knowledge of the quickly changing international environment. Global conflicts and issues need to be brought to the students as current events — not as history.
The study of worldwide issues through Global Connect establishes an environment that creates responsible global citizens and encourages young learners to pursue higher education. Global Connect builds a bridge to the world for our nation's secondary school students.
Global Connect dedicates its educational program and publications to addressing California's History/Social Studies Curriculum Framework and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. This is being accomplished through the creation of an original 2 semester (year-long) "Globalization and International Relations Course", implementation of the syllabus at select schools in Orange County, sponsorship of countywide teacher seminars, and development of new online curriculum options for secondary educators statewide and beyond. Classroom lessons are innovative in structure and not only teach students, but also serve as an ideal platform for analytical and reflective thinking about global issues.
One of the defining attributes of this collaboration has been the creation of a unique teaching bridge. University faculty and graduate students help introduce the key themes at the site schools. PowerPoint presentations are accessible for use by the host teachers. The site school host teachers have actively critiqued all parts of the curriculum and have helped define age appropriate vocabulary, content, and pedagogy.
Top undergraduates serve as classroom academic interns on an on-going basis. They serve as teacher aids and assist in implementing workshops, supporting literacy exercises, and small group activities and projects. At the University, the students are enrolled in an educational field study course.
In Fall 2001, the UCI School of Social Sciences and the Office of Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez created a new educational initiative called Global Connect. The primary objective behind the initiative was to create a bridge between the University and secondary school to address the international studies gap in California secondary schools. In its original form, Global Connect was built upon a 25 lesson per year outreach format. Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate interns worked with secondary educators in specific host classrooms. Initial participating students were enrolled in either AVID or History-Social Science classrooms and were in grades 8-10. Over a six-year period, the curriculum base was expanded and refined. Over 5,000 secondary students were enrolled in Global Connect via the outreach model.
At the request of former Laguna Hills High School Principal Sean Boulton and Newport-Mesa Unified School District Associate Superintendent Tom Antol, UCI faculty, graduate students, and secondary social studies educators (Jennifer Thompson, Angela Newman, Yoleisy Avila, A.K. Subramanian) created a semester course in the Spring of 2008 and have introduced this course as an academic elective for ninth graders at Laguna Hills High School, Estancia High School, and Newport Harbor High School. In Spring 2009, Ms. Avila's dual language immersion class served as the incubator for the development of an extended second-semester Globalization and International Relations Course. In 2009-2010, Laguna Hills High School in collaboration with Global Connect at UC Irvine has introduced a year-long global studies course for 9th graders. Currently, 400 students are enrolled in this academic program.