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Global education in action

Representatives from The Chicago School traveled to Costa Rica for a three-day interdisciplinary summit on global education.

Sitting in a classroom can grow dull after a while, especially if it’s hot outside. But, according to Nancy Bothne, Ph.D., from The Chicago School’s Chicago Campus, the classroom setting can become altogether different when you glance out the window at a mountain range in the distance,  and hummingbirds and butterflies playing with each other in the foreground.

And that was just one of the perks for the group of 12, including TCSPP faculty, who traveled to Costa Rica in mid-March for a three-day interdisciplinary and educational seminar focused on global education.

The seminar topic, “Global Education for the 21st Century,” was geared toward educators, students, and those working in higher education who are interested in actively working to resolve global challenges.

“It was also a beautiful, relaxing way for us to work together and get to know each other,” says Dr. Bothne, faculty in TCSPP’s Clinical Psychology Department.

Faculty from TCSPP were joined by faculty from partner institutions Pacific Oaks College and Saybrook University; as well as three representatives from Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) in Peru; and a staff representative from TCS Education System, a nonprofit system of colleges and universities that partners with Pacific Oaks, Saybrook, and TCSPP.

The trip was coordinated by Kelley Haynes-Mendez, Psy.D., a professor in TCSPP’s Psychology Department. The United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE)’s Centre for Executive Education hosted discussions throughout the trip at their campus in Costa Rica. This location was especially significant because UPEACE is the first and only university worldwide devoted entirely to teaching, learning, and researching how human beings can live in harmony on an individual, community, state, and global level.

For Drake Spaeth, Psy.D., a TCSPP professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a new addition to Saybrook University’s Humanistic and Clinical Psychology Department, it was also an opportunity to network with both groups.

“Being in a place like Costa Rica, which has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, lit a spark in me to explore more webinars in my coursework and panel discussions with other educators,” Dr. Spaeth says. “I specifically want to help my students learn more about indigenous spiritual traditions and contemporary spirituality in psychology.”

Dr. Marianne Jankowski, department chair in TCSPP’s Health Services Administration program, agrees that the interdisciplinary nature of the discussions was valuable.

“I’m almost always the non-psychology person on these study abroad trips, and it was nice to share my perspective and experiences,” Dr. Jankowski says. “It was also enjoyable to hear everyone else’s. And I feel like every level in education services needs to go on trips like these. Start from the top so they have an understanding of what the group experiences and wants to implement upon their return. When it’s just a couple of people, we feel empowered—for a little while. But with larger groups, we can really get our ideas for social innovation implemented on a larger scale.”

This was just the kind of feedback Dr. Haynes-Mendez wanted to hear as the organizer of the trip. For her capstone project—after an 18-month, intensive professional development course through UPEACE—she sought to connect different disciplines around the topic of global education.

“Our group discussions created richer experiences to implement with not only faculty, but staff, and administrators—all aimed ultimately at student success,” Dr. Mendez says. “I hope we can expand these trips so even more people have the opportunity to examine global education.”


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Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Shamontiel L. Vaughn joined TCS Education System’s Marketing Department as the Editorial Writer in February 2017. She has previously worked in digital media with the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Defender, CBS Chicago, and Sun Times Network.

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