Each year in November, we pause to celebrate International Education Week (IEW), a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and Education. This week recognizes the important role education plays in connecting us across the globe and highlights the benefits of international education and the exchange of ideas, cultures and languages.
On this occasion, the U.S. Department of Education has updated its international strategy, Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement, which reaffirms our commitment to preparing our students for an interconnected and competitive world. It lays out the three key objectives of our international work: increasing global and cultural competencies for all students, learning from and with other countries to strengthen U.S. education, and engaging in education diplomacy.
Secretary Betsy DeVos has emphasized the need to fundamentally rethink education so that each student, at every age, is prepared for whatever comes next. To that end, we are focusing attention on preparing all of our students for careers in the global economy. We need more individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset to foster a new generation of innovators, inventors, and job creators who will unleash their ingenuity worldwide.
Now, more than ever, we must aim to develop globally and culturally competent students. It is not enough to focus solely on ensuring that students have basic reading, writing, and math skills. Today’s world also requires critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and cultural intelligence to face challenges head on.
Education is critical to economic growth. But no economy can reach its capacity without enlisting the talents of all members of society. Empowering each individual to excel — including creating new pathways to success in the critical STEM fields, and securing more world-class learning opportunities for women around the globe — can unlock human potential on a transformational scale.
While we focus our attention on international education this week, we recognize that every week is international education week — an opportunity to start learning a new language, explore a new culture, engage with someone from a different background and open doors to a world of possibilities.
Maureen McLaughlin is Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Director of International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education.
Rebecca Miller is an International Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Department of Education.
Photo at the top: #CTEGlobalized panel discussion on the intersection of Career and Technical Education and Global and Cultural Competencies. From left: Maureen McLaughlin, Senior Advisor and Director of International Affairs, U.S. Department of Education; Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education; Mauro Moruzzi, Ambassador, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, Switzerland; Robert Burch, Acting Director, Office of Education, Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3), USAID; and Stephanie Zhang, Junior, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Alumna.