Honey, We Shrunk the World!

emmanuelOne of the greatest revolutions that took place in the 20th century was the dynamic shrinking of distance on a global scale. And if we were to borrow a thought from a popular 1990s movie, we would say, “Honey, we shrunk the world!” This has serious implications and consequences for those of us who live on the planet in the 21st century. So we would be wiser if we each embraced its promise and prepare to deal with its challenges.

We live in interesting times. If someone had predicted a century ago that peoples of the world would live so close to one another the way we do today, no one would have believed it. And yet, advancements in telecommunication, information technology and transportation have increased our capacity to travel to and connect with peoples across national boundaries in any part of the world within a reasonable amount of time, and it is beyond one’s wildest dreams. As a result, we are now witnessing the true meaning and essence of being citizens in an emerging “global” community. Citizenship imposes upon us the need to not only learn more about this global community, but also to embrace it, and contribute to its future direction and destiny. This calls for global civic education which should be part of every student’s education from kindergarten to college. The prospect for students to be successful graduates, residents, or employees in an increasingly globalized Central New York community depends on it.

First, Central New York is a destination of choice for new immigrants, refugees, international students and visitors. And they continue to come. The presence of these new communities has enriched the cultural/ethnic diversity of the region. It is an excellent preparatory ground to learn about ourselves through the “eyes” and perspectives of other people’s cultures. Survival in the global community requires that you demonstrate knowledge and respect for other cultures and ethnic background. It is a strength; not a liability. By learning about the apparent differences, we begin to appreciate more what we share in common with other people.

Second, businesses in Central New York are all influenced by changes occurring in the global marketplace. We have recently witnessed the “flight” of businesses with roots in Central New York to other parts of the country, and overseas. Many have lost their jobs, and are wondering ‘why us?’ It is imperative for every resident to gain a deeper understanding of the global forces that are causing these changes, how they affect them, and what steps they could take personally and communally.

Third, citizens in the global community are engaged in defining core values that would enable them to not only live peacefully on this planet, but also to save it. We are witnessing increasing partnerships among governmental institutions as well as grassroots organizations across national boundaries to solve global issues including the preservation, protection and sustainability of the planet we share in common. The take-away from these efforts is that choices we make individually and collectively have consequences locally and globally. Learning about how these local-global dynamics impact sustainability and the long-term health of the environment we seek to pass on to future generations is critical, and a core value for global citizenship. In other words, you must think globally and act locally.

Onondaga is one of the leading educational institutions that is preparing its students and employees to live, work, and thrive in an increasingly global community, and has boldly articulated its intentions in its Strategic Plan: A Framework for Success.

It is my hope that everyone would come to appreciate Onondaga‘s efforts to engage its students and employees to become better citizens in a brave new world.

Dr. Emmanuel B. Awuah is the acting Associate Vice President of Instructional Services and the former Director of Diversity Services. Originally from Ghana, Dr. Awuah is a professor of sociology. He was an ACE Fellow at Northern Michigan University through the American Council on Education, the nation’s premier higher education leadership development program which prepares senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.