Monday , December 17, 2018

Going Global: Providence Day at the Forefront of Global Education

Globalization increasingly links people through business, trade, communication and common global challenges, impacting every aspect of our lives. Global education and increased interaction with the rest of the world provide exposure to diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities, making us more aware of the need to find collaborative solutions.


While most American schools over the last decade have promoted global education in some form to help students understand the world’s cultures and global issues, Providence Day School in Charlotte has been at the forefront of global education initiatives. Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs Derrick Willard notes, “In the 21st century we are called on to coach the skills and dispositions that will help our students to create and govern peaceful, thriving and sustainable local and global communities.”


Beginning in 2005, Providence Day created the first Global Studies Diploma (GSD) program in the country for upper school students. Students in the program take a series of global courses that integrate knowledge, skills and character dispositions to examine and create solutions to key global issues. In the process, students gain perspectives and skills like problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking and empathy.


Senior year students take a global leadership course that encapsulates their global education development. Travel abroad, hosting international students, and global speakers round out their experiential requirements. On graduation day, GSD students proudly receive both a Providence Day diploma and a GSD diploma. A number of independent schools across the country have adopted the global studies diploma model in some form.


At Providence Day, global learning is emphasized in every division and right from the start. Early on in Transitional Kindergarten(TK) TKers learn about China, Germany and Kenya through a month-long passport program. World language courses starting in TK help students develop cultural competency and language proficiency.


Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, Allen Goodman and Sir Cyril Taylor in their book, A Student Guide To Study Abroad, argue that globalization requires our students to have cross-cultural communication skills, deeper cultural understanding, enhanced world language learning, and an experience that gets students out of their cultural comfort zone to help them develop cultural literacy and the ability to interact with non-Americans. Traveling abroad can help make that happen.


Providence Day offers student travel opportunities to nearly every continent. Several trips involve exchanges with “sister” schools in China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, and Peru. Providence Day students live, study and interact with sister school students and their families. Reciprocally, sister school students visit Providence Day for one to two weeks.


2015-2016 Travel Opportunities

           Belize Outdoor Adventure and Service Learning

           French Exchange

           South Africa: History, Culture and Human Rights

           Israel Exchange

           Argentina—Spanish Immersion

           South Africa—Red Hill Service Learning

           Understanding Culture and Improving Education in China

           The Environmental History of Australia

           Italy: Art and Architecture


Social responsibility is a central tenet of the Providence Day mission. Some trips involve major service learning like the ones to Belize and South Africa. Others emphasize world language enhancement such as the trip to Argentina. Five trips earn students credit toward their graduation requirements. Also, Providence Day is now a member of Roundsquare International which provides rich opportunities for students in the network to actively engage with students from around the world addressing global issues.


Global learning requires global faculty. Providence Day was first in the nation to create the Global Educators Certificate (GEC) program. Teachers enroll d in the program travel to two different parts of the globe and bring their cultural experiences to their classrooms and the larger Providence Day community.


Moving forward, Providence Day has adopted a strategic TK-12 global education vision. As Head of School Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw emphasizes, “It’s vital for our schools to prioritize strategically planned opportunities for students to develop the ability to appreciate and value the differences among people in our school community as well as in the larger world that’s impacting them.”


Content sponsored by GreerWalker LLP, a Charlotte-based accounting and business advisory firm offering assurance, accounting, tax, and consulting services. Content contributed by Dr. Loren Fauchier, Director of Global Education at Providence Day School in Charlotte, and the Vice President of the Global Education Benchmark Group, a consortium of 150+ independent schools in the U.S., Canada, Britain and Turkey. For more information, contact him at or 704-887-6000 or visit


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