Students gain intercultural competency through Global Baylor certificate program

Global Baylor offers students multicultural experiences they can use throughout their careers. Brittany Tankersley | Photographer

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

Global Baylor, one of the four major initiatives of Baylor’s Quality Enhancement Plan and internalization effort, has grown in its most student-facing and driven aspect: the Certificate in Global Engagement. The Global Baylor Initiative began in the spring of 2018 with the initial goal of having 40 students enrolled in the certificate program; as of recently, there are 308 students enrolled.

“I think that is a testament to the student appetite for this kind of certificate, this kind of engagement,” Bobby Leis, assistant director of Global Baylor, said.

The certificate program is open to all students. According to the Global Baylor Connect, it was designed to help develop globally essential skills and knowledge in preparation for leadership and service in today’s global society.

If a student earns the certificate, it will be signed by President Linda Livingstone, and they will receive a cord for graduation and have the certificate on their transcript.

“It’s the only certificate on campus right now that’s transcripted,” Holly Joyner, program manager of Global Baylor, said. “You can use it to talk to graduate schools, your first job offers.”

Leis said that all professional organizations — in every field across the board — look for candidates who have both hard skills and intercultural competency.

“There are absolutely no jobs after graduation that say there’s no value to intercultural competencies,” Leis said. “They all say it’s important to have intercultural competencies.”

Intercultural competence is the ability to function effectively across cultures, to think and act appropriately and to communicate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds, at home or abroad.

The certificate program offers the opportunity to learn about multiple cultures from the Engagement Activity, Global Friendship program elective and Global Engagement courses. These courses, however, do not add onto a degree or affect graduation time.

“The certificate is built into the degree program,” Leis said. “For example, instead of a biology major taking epidemiology as their upper-level elective, they would take tropical disease in North Africa.”

Leis said that in years past, there was a demand from students who were involved with activities and organizations on the certificate.

“They wanted something more than anecdotal evidence,” Leis said. “This was put together as a way to recognize the internationalization of our Baylor students that already exist.”

There are three phases in the certificate program: examination, exploration and engagement. These do not have to be in order, and one can even retroactively log their activities if they have attended or participated before enrolling. Global Baylor sends out a newsletter of possible events and activities, takes in event requests to see if they are applicable and provides a global calendar of events.

All gold activities listed on the certificate are required, while the green ones include options to choose from. For example, while Chapel is a gold requirement, a student must attend 10 on-campus events from the event attendance list, even if all 10 are films on global issues.

“If a student comes to us … and they have a really good reason why they couldn’t get something done, we might find an alternative that isn’t on this list,” Joyner said.

However, Joyner said the point of the certificate is not to simply check things off a list.

“It really should be genuinely useful to students,” Joyner said. “We wanted the students … to have a way to say, ‘Hey I’m not only a finance major, I’m a globally engaged student.’”

Students may enroll in the certificate program by emailing global_baylor@baylor.edu with their request, name and student ID. Once enrolled, students can see their progress and which activities they have left.