The Goals of Transnational Education: Reflections of a True Believer, by Jeffrey S. Lehman


Transnational education can both improve the lives of the students who experience it and also increase cooperation and reduce conflict across cultural lines. The value of transnational education is more apparent when one considers how, in a radically transformed twenty-first century, students need to develop a special set of nine essential qualities: curiosity, empathy, skepticism, logical thinking, patience, creativity, scientific literacy, effectiveness across cultural boundaries and multilingualism. The need to develop these qualities is framing the design of the educational program at NYU Shanghai. Half the students will come from China and half from the rest of the world. All students will become proficient in both English and Chinese, take course sequences called Global Perspectives on Society and Global Perspectives on Culture and will spend one to three semesters at other campuses of NYU’s global network. More generally, study abroad opportunities for undergraduates, such as what is offered through the University of California’s Education Abroad Program, need to be elevated as a core component of their educational experience. A well-designed education abroad program must include: spending a full semester, but preferably a full academic year, in another country; taking classes alongside local students; developing proficiency in a foreign language; and living with a host family. Experiencing different cultures and different languages leads to perceptual and cognitive frames of reference increasingly vital for students, and nations, to effectively participate in a globalizing world.

Jeffrey S. Lehman
Publication date: 
December 1, 2012
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
THE GOALS OF TRANSNATIONAL EDUCATION: Reflections of a True Believer by Jeffrey S. Lehman. CSHE 17.12 (December 2012)