Global Engagement Through Teaching

Teacher candidates at Valparaiso University prepare for the globalized world of the 21st century.



At Valparaiso University, all teacher candidates take a course on culturally responsive teaching to learn how to teach in classrooms that are becoming increasingly diverse. Each spring a version of this course goes to Costa Rica over spring break. Focusing on issues related to diversity, equity, and education, students are immersed into Costa Rican culture, staying with host families in urban and rural settings, visiting and working in K-12 schools, meeting teacher candidates at a local university in San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as touring key sites in the country.

Faculty with international experience

Dr. Jan Westrick works in international education development with the goal of assisting educational leaders and systems create greater quality and equity for all students. Since joining Valparaiso University, she has worked with four countries in Central/Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Partnering with UNICEF Macedonia and the Ministry of Education, Westrick trained trainers of reading and writing, prepared educational supervisors for their new roles as supporters of the trainers, and introduced the new teaching strategies to pedagogical faculty (2008-2011).

Partnering with UNICEF and the country’s Agencies of Education, Westrick helped to design a methodology for setting national learning outcomes in literacy for Preschool-Grade 12 and trained leaders to apply that methodology to the development of national learning outcomes in all subject areas (2012-2013), almost all of which have been completed by 2016.

In a second partnership in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Westrick led a project with Save the Children Project and educational leaders and teachers in Zenica-Doboj Canton to prepare Preschool-Grade 9 teachers and supervisors of mother tongue instruction to design lessons and use new instructional strategies for teaching to the new literacy learning outcomes. The participants in this training program became trainers for other teachers in the canton (2013-2014).

Partnering with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, Westrick led educational leaders in the development of system standards related to the dimensions of child-friendly schools (2012).

A partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in Oman aimed to develop and implement the Sultanate’s approach to integrating child rights into their education system at school, governorate, and national levels. The “Child-Friendly School” is a holistic model of educational quality that drives ongoing school improvement through the involvement of students, parents, and teachers in data gathering, analysis, and goal-setting at the local level. Oman is now scaling up this model to all 1,000+ schools in the country (2013-2015).

Media education: engagement with the world through text

Content areas have a mediated life; for example, students may learn about science–who scientists are, what they do, and how science is used–through a range of narratives, images, advertisements, and journalism.  In addition, young people use media to negotiate relationships and identities in significant and changing ways–an important facet of contemporary youth culture.  Finally, media are central to our civic engagement, and new technologies and increasing access impact democratic practices and global communication.