According to Glenn and Gordon in the Executive Summary of the 2006 State of the Future report published by the American Council for United Nations University, “The great paradox of our age is that while more and more people enjoy the benefits of technological and economic growth, growing numbers of people are poor and unhealthy, and nearly the same percentage of the population has lacked access to education over the past 30 years” (p. 7).  Education is central to the improvement of the human condition.  Education—formal, non-formal, and informal—plays a key role in the development of individuals and countries.  For education to have its full impact, however, simultaneous attention must be given to a host of social, cultural, technological, and economic factors that influence a person’s learning and life opportunities.  Both developing and developed countries are being challenged to improve people’s educational and social welfare.  Increased attention, therefore, is being given to addressing particular educational indicators that serve as signs of individual and national development.  These include: educational access and opportunity, educational accountability and delivery, and educational attainment and quality. 

Major global challenges include inequality, poverty, and social injustice, which necessitate the systematic study of cross-national issues and the role that education can play in helping people construct more socially-just policies, practices, and spaces in Indiana, the U.S., and abroad.  Seeking solutions to the dilemmas facing countries and communities today require concerted attention to global learning and cross-cultural, international research.  In the U.S., the need is to develop people’s international awareness or “wide-awakeness,” as educational philosopher Maxine Greene has advocated.  The development of international awareness and cross-cultural sensitivity is a primary responsibility of higher education institutions in today’s global environment.  The development of international awareness through comparative research and inquiry leads to an increased understanding of cultural values, worldviews, human behaviors, social relations, and social institutions, as well as self-knowledge of one’s own views and positions. 

The reciprocal sharing of knowledge and expertise between countries leads to individual, community, and national development and educational improvement in the U.S. and abroad.  The Center for International Education, Development & Research (CIEDR) at Indiana University is dedicated to these purposes.

Reference: Glenn, J.C., & Gordon, T.J. (2006). Executive summary: State of the future.Washington, DC: American Council for United Nations University Millennium Project.