Together with a number of content partners, AFS is convening the AFS Global Conference under the topic “Global Competence: Our Future, Our Responsibility” in Budapest this September. Dr. Anthony Jackson of Asia Society, an educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and partnerships between Asia and the United States, is one of the distinguished speakers who will address hundreds of leaders from different sectors who will gather at the conference. We thank Tony for sharing his insights on global competence in this interview.

What are the challenges facing all stakeholders in developing global competence and how can these be transformed into opportunities?

Taking education to a global scale can’t be left to chance. It requires systematic professional development.

That’s why at the Center of Global Education at Asia Society, we’ve worked for the past 15 years in developing professional learning resources for teachers, including an online teacher training program called Teaching for Global Competence, in collaboration with the Arizona State University.

We’re also developing a robust digital library of tools and resources that have proven effective in helping teachers know how to teach for global competence.  It will include online communities of practice of teachers from around the world learning to teach for global competence so that every teacher can connect with like-minded educators similarly working to improve.

Other organizations like AFS are contributing their own knowledge, tools and resources toward translating the universal need for practical professional learning into an opportunity for modernizing the profession.

Tony Jackson, Asia Society

What are innovative practices that educators and organizations have developed to advance global competence?

In the report Teaching for Global Competence in a Rapidly Changing World co-produced by Asia Society and OECD, a range of educator-led innovations to advance global competence are described. For example, there is a teacher in Bergen, Norway who has her students routinely speak with people in other countries as part of their lesson. She first has them research an issue, formulate questions and then engage in discussions through their computers with people from different cultures.

Her students read in a local newspaper about the challenges girls routinely face in some parts of India to get an education. So they researched the issue through newspaper accounts, videos and other materials online. They then contacted an all-girls school in India to discuss the issue directly with girls there to understand the issue firsthand.

Another example is from a teacher in Mexico who wanted her students to learn firsthand about the rule of law and what it means to be an active citizen in a democracy. So, as part of a unit on how to evaluate a political or social challenge and recommend a solution, she had her students create and administer a survey to the people within an affluent community and a low income community about the people’s attitudes and experiences with corruption.

Seventy-five percent of the people in both places had been victims of corruption, many not even realizing it until the survey brought it to their attention. So the students came up with a plan on how to reduce corruption and presented it directly to local officials.

Another very simple example is of the teacher in Kenya who had her students plant more than 3,000 trees as part of a service learning project. She used their work as the mechanism to teach about reforestation, soil conservation and how trees help to absorb carbon from the air.

Perhaps the most important thing teachers can do is to begin integrating project based learning into their teaching. A teacher in the US has his  students engage in a project to research a religious issue in a global context, utilize authentic sources including people with direct knowledge about the issue, and ultimately exhibit what they produced to show their learning to real-world audience that has expertise on the issue. 


Anthony Jackson leads Asia Society’s work in education which strives to enable all students to graduate high school prepared for college, for work in the global economy, and for 21st century global citizenship. Jackson oversees the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, a global platform for collaboratively advancing education for global competence for all, and also co-authored the seminal follow-up blueprint Turning Points 2000, considered one of the most influential books on middle school reform. Jackson holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and M.A. and Ph.D. in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan.