Alfred T. Kisubi, Ph.D.
International Editor, Human Services Today.
Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh Wisconsin, USA
In the last decade, human service professionals have started to emphasize the need for international perspectives. Lee (1998) writing in the context of professional counseling, points out the need for collaborative international action and recognizes the efforts by various professions to explore ways to adopt a global perspective in order to address more effectively challenges that increasingly transcend political borders. This effort has led to the development of an international helping paradigm that uniquely “encompasses a universal consensus for social action to promote human development” (p.293).
In Human services in the 21st Century, a monograph of the Council of Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE), “Alfred Kisubi expands our traditional notion of client group to embrace a more global look at the world and the needs of its inhabitants. He implores us to consider those populations who are immigrating, fleeing from political oppression, famine, or failing economies. According to Kisubi, even in developing countries there is an expanding population whose daily needs remain unmet, especially in vulnerable populations defined by race, gender, and age. Human service professionals are encouraged to participate more widely in many global efforts to address these issues”. (McClam and Woodside (2000)
In the latest CSHSE monograph Lizbeth Ann Gray (2005) echoes the widespread call for international perspectives in human services education. She believes that many of our human service students receive “only small pieces of education about international social issues and ways to learn more about alternative methods of human service provision.” She recommends, “A world view of human services is paramount to understanding how working with people is culturally contextual”. She, like Eitzen and Leedham (2004) believes that in our interdependent world contemporary students must be prepared to live in a global environment and “develop skills and competences appropriate for the 21st century.”
Traditional educators also have an elaborate agenda for comparative and global education. Their definition of global education involves a view of the world that requires an open perception of oneself and others. It is an inclusive and integrative area of the curriculum that ties together many strands, like life skills, attitudes, and appreciations. It is focused on world systems, issues and cultures.
At the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh the College of Education and Human Services has fledgling but growing links with international universities. In addition the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership (HEL) has an ongoing exchange program, and many connections through visiting faculty from abroad. So when the program launched its new curriculum it included an entire course on globalization and human services.
This initiative will further develop a long-term link with overseas organizations, especially African Universities, where over fifty students from various disciplines have attended the annual interdisciplinary Seminar on globalization in which human service students earn internship credit.
The Department of Human Service and Education Leadership is interested in developing more formal links with overseas universities particularly in Africa, a region which is sometimes overlooked. The new human service leadership curriculum is commitment to civil society strengthening and social and international development.
While over the last thirty years the Department of Human Service and Education Leadership’s links with local non-profits in the U.S has worked well for its students as internship agencies and have demonstrated the advantages of education and training in the field of management and development, NGOs abroad, particularly in Africa will also hopefully play the same role in the future.
The emergence of and development of civil society organizations in Africa has created both constraints and opportunities. A University in Africa is well placed to serve the interests of the NGO community by providing institutional support, organizational strengthening and management development. The Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership at the UW Oshkosh is well placed to support such an African University, especially as we embark on producing graduate leaders in participatory management development and organizational support for NGOs, particularly at grassroots and local levels.
Our new philosophy in human service leadership fits into our long term aspirations to develop global curriculum and distance learning opportunities through online courses for managers of nonprofits and NGOs. It fits strategically in terms of the development of the Human Services leadership program and its overseas links. Hope other programs around the country will start their own programs or if they have already done so continue the good work so that faculty and students explore interactions and connections among nations, especially in relation to how people from other cultures impact our daily lives and how our lives impact theirs.
Benefits and Results:
There are many advantages of the exchange program between the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and various Universities abroad. Those programs that directly get involved in the exchange enrich their curriculum through a comparative examination of public policies and other cultural tenets. Faculty and students add an international perspective on what they teach and study, respectively. They also gain the great value of experiencing cultures other than their own. There is nothing as eye opening as having a comparative cultural experience and appreciating different lenses through which diverse people view the world and derive their meaning. The learning opportunities also help us clarify issues about life and the world that may have been constrained by the univocal way of looking and interpreting reality.
Through the exchange faculty and students make and maintain global friendships and cohesion. It also provides new horizons of studies and research in education, human services, medicine, social work, psychology, and other sciences and arts. They also develop awareness of political, economic, scientific, educational, and cultural interdependence that exists across national and cultural borders and analyze the complexity of the world’s peoples, including their differences, similarities, conflicts, and connections. Subsequently, faculty and students learn how to infuse global perspectives into curriculum and program planning, and develop an awareness of the responsibility of a global citizen and learn strategies of how to teach or give services with the capabilities of global citizenship. Above all, faculty and students develop an awareness of the nature, structure, and context of various educational and human services systems.
Since the exchange program is intended to embrace universities and the school/human services districts, there are practical advantages, such as teaching experience in grade and high schools, working at the medical and other human services agencies. Human services workers can be deployed in various needs situations, e.g. children, exceptional populations, community groups, HIV/AIDS programs and patients living with the disease, among others.Other opportunities include interfaculty research projects, such as the one in traditional herbal medicines, co-supervision of Master’s and Doctoral programs and exchange students’ studies and research and transferring of credits to their respective majors.
So far the exchange has yielded some results. Various UW Oshkosh students have traveled to Greece, Australia, and Japan. Some have gone to Kenya and Uganda to attend the Seminar on Globalization: Africa’s Experience. Each year papers on topics related to globalization are given at the seminar. This past summer those who gave papers included the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, who talked about U.S.- Uganda policy counter debated by a Ugandan government official.
The Honorable J. William Fulbright put it, “We certainly stand at a turning point in history. I have devoted my life to the furtherance of these critical international exchange programs which can do so much further mutual understanding and human progress, and I am convinced they have provided enormous dividends. The future of these programs is in your hands.” We wish to echo these words as the moral of this modest proposal.
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Gray, L.A. (2005) Human Services: International Perspectives. Chicago, Illinois: Council for Standards in Human Services Education.
King, E.W., Chipman, M., and Cruz-Jansen, M. (1994). Educating young children in a diverse society. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Kisubi, A.T. (2001). “The Great Divide: Global Socio-economic Trends & Human Services in the 21st Century: We’re in this Together or Are We?” in Tricia McClam & Marianne Woodside (Eds.) Human Services in the 21st Century. Reading, MA: Council for Standards in Human Service Education.
Lee, C. Professional Counseling in a global Context: Collaboration for International social action in C. Lee and G. Walz (Eds.). Social Action: A Mandate For Counselors, pp 293 –312. Alexandris, VA: American Counseling association: Greenborough, NC: ERIC Counseling and Student Services Clearing House.
McClam, T. & Woodside, M. (2000). Human Services in the 21st Century. Reading, MA: Council for Standards in Human Service Education.
Swiniarski, L.A., Breitborde, M. and Murphy, J. (1999). Educating the global village: Including the young child in the world. Upper Saddle river, NJ: Prentice Hall