At a time when understanding others is more important than ever but social distancing measures remain in place worldwide, AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS) is launching a new suite of programs for students, faculty and professionals across a variety of disciplines to “global up”—develop essential skills, like collaboration, problem-solving, and cross-cultural communication, needed for their personal, academic and professional development

Universities, businesses and organizations can benefit greatly from this new suite of research-based, customizable and scalable AFS Global Competence Certificate (GCC) programs. 

“There is growing evidence that the ability to work effectively in diverse settings and to communicate across culturally-based differences are essential 21st century skills. The GCC provides an easy way for anyone to ‘global up’ or develop these key skills, with or without international travel or exchange, something especially timely in today’s circumstances,” says Linda Stuart, Head of the Global Competence Certificate at AFS.

The AFS GCC content is designed to develop learners’ intercultural competence within their own community or schools, while working on diverse teams, or when living or studying abroad. The GCC program comes in four different versions, each appropriate for the specific needs of different audiences:

  • The classic GCC Abroad is best suited for participants in study abroad programs looking to develop their global competence before, during and after their international experience. 
  • (NEW) In the GCC At Home, learners have the opportunity to collaborate effectively across differences in a program that requires no travel. Learners gain awareness that culture and diversity surrounds them in their local communities.  Universities use this version to support students’ global competence development in their academic and professional pursuits.
  • (NEW) GCC At Work focuses on developing skills required to effectively work with individuals and organizations from cultural backgrounds other than our own—competencies needed for every workplace.
  • (NEW) GCC Teen features a youth-focused platform for connecting and sharing with other teen learners worldwide. It helps young people begin their journey as active global citizens and is the foundation of initiatives like the AFS Global You Adventurer program.

The new suite of programs builds on the award-winning AFS GCC that has already been used by more than 10,000 university, intern and language abroad students in 50 countries. Key partners so far include universities, nonprofits and governments like Miami University of Ohio, Texas A & M International University, Purdue University, the University of St Thomas, Education New Zealand, Ministry of Education Malaysia, Institute for International Education, and numerous others.

Multiple research studies have proven the effectiveness of this program, with one Purdue University study finding that “GCC learners are more effective intercultural communicators, they are equipped to resolve conflict and are able to bridge differences.”

“Skills like intercultural communication, understanding power and privilege, and the ability to see the world from a variety of perspectives is no longer optional. Employers and educators worldwide increasingly recognize the urgent need and value of these skills, and AFS is eager to provide such valuable development opportunities for a growing number of partners,” adds Daniel Obst, President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs.

A unique advantage of the GCC programs is that they combine online learning that individuals can complete at their own pace, with live guided reflection sessions run by well-trained and experienced Qualified Facilitators—either online or in-person. The interactive online content that covers topics like conflict management, overcoming polarization, and cultural values, is adapted for global audiences, with subtitles in multiple languages, and an interactive video and forum space. All participants receive a certificate upon completion, demonstrating their professional and personal development.  Several universities provide college credit when integrating the GCC as core curriculum. 

All editions of the GCC are flexible and can be implemented with learners over different durations—spanning from two weeks to one year. Each GCC offering can be further customized to suit the specific needs of the institution using it including creating additional content modules, adjusting forum discussion questions, and more.

Find out more and request a demo of the GCC at or contact us at For media inquiries, please contact Milena Miladinovic.

About AFS Intercultural Programs

AFS Intercultural Programs develops active global citizens committed to making the world a better place. Through our international exchange programs, education initiatives, volunteerism and advocacy, we empower young people from all backgrounds with essential global skills—and the passion for making a difference. AFS Intercultural Programs leverages the power and reach of 50+ National AFS Organizations working together to accelerate the local, global and collective impact with more than 70 years expertise in intercultural education.