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Global Thinking Across the Curriculum

Global Thinking Across the Curriculum

By: Tess Porter, Digital Content Producer, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Are you trying to prepare your students to succeed in our increasingly interconnected world? Looking for ideas and methods to help your students analyze real issues, understand and appreciate others’ perspectives, and take action?

Check out the following interdisciplinary collections created by elementary to high school teachers to educate for global competence – defined as “the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.“ All contain adaptable suggestions for use and extension with learners. Teachers created these collections within the project Museums Go Global, directed by the Professional Development Collaborative at Washington International School and generously supported by the Longview Foundation.

From 1619 to the American Civil Rights Movement to Today by Marissa McCauley, a middle-school English teacher at Washington International School (DC), ties The New York Times podcast “1619” with modern and contemporary artwork to help students explore and analyze the history that led to the Civil Rights Movement–key to understanding why the Movement was necessary.

In Paths to Perspective: How the Past Connects to Our Present by Sean Felix, a sixth-grade teacher at Edmund Burke School (DC), students explore how they personally connect to our larger, collective past through close looking and conversation about portraits of influential African Americans.

STEAM Learning: Beauty and Truth in Science and Art by Sandra Vilevac, STEAM Specialist at the Primary School at Washington International School (DC), asks students to explore connections between science and art–specifically, how both can communicate beauty and truth about the world–as a catalyst to further inquiry into the solar system.

Art & Resistance 2: Black Women Subjects Free from the Gaze by Sher Anderson Petty, IB Literature teacher at Seneca Valley High School (MD), ties a reading of Toni Morrison’s Beloved to artwork of and by black women to explore how the concept of “the gaze” in art and literature can be a system, or part of a system, of oppression.

Investigating Clean Water by Marissa Werner, a fourth-grade math teacher at H. D. Cooke Elementary School (DC), supports students in understanding how people access clean water both locally and globally. After investigating access, students take action by creating a public service announcement or by designing an innovative solution.

These lessons are just the beginning! By searching for #GoGlobal in the Learning Lab, you’ll find even more collections on a wide range of topics, including perspectives in manifestos, what it means to be human in the anthropocene, stories of animal conservation, community, and more.

Are you interested in learning more about teaching for global competence? Search the Learning Lab for “global thinking” to find Project Zero Global Thinking Routines, and read Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World from the Asia Society, the leading document on the topic.


Sculpture Group Symbolizing World's Communication in the Atomic Age

Image: Sculpture Group Symbolizing World's Communication in the Atomic Age (detail), by Harry Bertoia
Smithsonian American Art Museum.