Shenandoah University’s Global Citizenship Project (GCP) was conceived 10 years ago when the estate of Dr. Nancy Larrick Crosby, a former trustee and friend of the university, made a generous contribution to Shenandoah to use to further its mission in a meaningful way. A committee soon assembled to discuss the possibilities that could emerge from this generous gift. One member of this committee, Associate Dean and Professor of Management RT Good, Ed.D., remembers the deliberation process and how the idea for GCP came to fruition.
“We knew we had this inspired gift and wanted to honor the inspiration and legacy that [Nancy Larrick Crosby] shared with the university. We were also looking to do something really different
in a way that energized international learning opportunities here at the university,” Dr. Good recalls.
The idea for GCP stemmed from the pre-existing Global Experiential Learning (GEL) program, a faculty-led, for-credit, study-abroad program that included courses offered at locations around the world. The GCP committee sought to create an opportunity that could become more widespread across the university. They saw the benefit of introducing students, as well as faculty and staff, to different parts of the world. They wanted to continue to build on the ideal of global citizenship, a core value of the university’s mission.
“It was important to think of Shenandoah’s role in a community and to help students think about their roles, as well,” Good elaborated, “but because internationalization was also important, this program combined these [roles] through global citizenship.”
The GCP founding committee decided to open the program not only to undergraduate
and graduate students but to faculty and staff. They agreed participants should complete an essay to be reviewed by the committee. Rather than selecting their preferred destination, individuals would be selected and placed in one of five international destinations led by a faculty mentor. Each year, the groups would study a theme — from power to family dynamics, for example — that would serve as an academic “hook” to ground the experience and unify the discussion, despite the diverse locations for each group.
A decade later, individuals still apply for the GCP by submitting an anonymous essay by mid-September, explaining why they wish to be selected. This creates an equal opportunity for each individual to be eligible for consideration — another unique aspect of the program. Everyone who applies has a chance! Over the years, GCP has grown into a distinctive asset for the university community, creating a remarkable experience that sets Shenandoah University apart from programs at other universities. “This is one of the programs that distinguishes our university from so many others,” said Trustee Mary Shockey. “I’ve gotten to meet so many wonderful individuals as we’ve traveled together. GCP is a great equalizer. It gives people across campus — faculty, students, staff and trustees — a unique opportunity to listen and interact in a meaningful way. This is a unique experience, and the learning doesn’t stop when you get off the bus.”
Since its inception, GCP groups have traveled to more than 45 countries. They are designed, with the help of faculty members and current students who serve as trip guides, to let participants experience real-life situations at their destinations. Students, faculty and staff interact with locals and stay in modest accommodations. The idea is to give participants an experience of normal life within a specific culture. The goal is to not only educate but to immerse participants in the experience as organically and authentically as possible.
Looking back on the original goals set by the founding committee for GCP, it’s clear the program has achieved the original intent for which it was created.
“I think GCP is worthy of celebration, because it was a commitment and a risk the university took for the right reasons,” said Good. “It was about learning first, and it continues to pay off. When you ask people to describe a hallmark of a Shenandoah University experience, so frequently they will say the GCP. It’s a mark of who we are now. It’s part of our DNA, our identity, and who we’ve become. You can’t find this program anywhere else; nobody does it how we do it,” said Good.
– GCP Locations By Year (2005-2013)
– 47 destinations (3 repeat locations)
– 551 travelers to-date
– 5 groups per year
– 11-12 members per group
Groups include faculty, staff, trustees, graduate and undergraduate students