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Get a Passport: Global Competence in EPPs Preparing Teacher Educators for Culturally Responsive Fulbright Experiences

This blog article is part of the Global Education Faculty PLC Professional Development Series, sponsored by the Longview Foundation. The writing series aims to elevate the perspectives of international scholars — including teacher educators, graduate students, and alike — to offer insights into how Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) can integrate intercultural understanding within their programs. AACTE members interested in participating in the series should contact AACTE’s Brooke Evans.

Note: the AACTE Call for Awards is open for the 2024 Best Practice Award in Support of Global and International Perspectives, which recognizes exemplary practice in the intercultural, global, cross-cultural, and international arenas. The 2024 Best Practice Award in Support of Multicultural Education and Diversity is also open and recognizes the infusion of diversity throughout all components of a school, college, or department of education (SCDE) as critical to quality educator preparation and professional development. If you wish to apply for one of these awards, please visit aacte.org. Applications must be received by September 1, 2023.

While we celebrated with 2023 graduates from colleges across the United States, some students graduated this spring with more than a diploma. These students have passports in their hands to a global experience teaching abroad, as Fulbright recipients. A recent article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2023), highlighted “Fulbright U.S. Scholar and Fulbright U.S. Student Programs sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to support academic exchanges between the United States and over 150 countries around the world.”

Amidst a global pandemic, college students faced many challenges of which isolation and mental health adversely upended their college goals and aspirations to travel and explore the world. However, through this experience, students found ways to cultivate perseverance, navigate uncharted territories, virtually connect with other cultures, determined even more to bridge cultural gaps and realize their dreams of cultural immersions.

A resilient 2023 college graduate and Fulbright recipient, Tyler Delahanty shared, “I always had a goal in college to study abroad. I initially started to put forth plans for this during my first year, but unfortunately, COVID quickly canceled those plans. Because of this, I looked to the future and engaged fairly early into college with the Fulbright program.” It is critical in higher education to support our students to function effectively beyond the walls of our classrooms. How do we prepare our preservice teachers in Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) to be globally engaged? It is necessary to build strong partnerships with Fulbright offices on our university campuses to expose our students to global teaching opportunities.

As a global scholar and diversity course professor I intentionally facilitate and engage with my students on scholarly inquiry, experiential immersion, and disciplined reflection on intercultural competence giving them a practical, modeled experience of cultural understandings as they embed themselves into clinical field experiences in diverse educational settings. The advice I regularly give my students is ‘Get a Passport, travel the world. Meet diverse student populations and immerse yourself in a global educational experience.’ This resonated with some college graduates from the University of Dayton’s EPP, who will be living out their experiences teaching abroad in global spaces.

EPPs have a responsibility to engage their candidates in knowledge steeped in global competence in education, thereby providing a solid foundation for students to critically engage with people across the globe. We must afford them opportunities in their preparation to practice perspective-taking, openness, empathy, and equity (Ullom & Guler, 2023). As our students acquire knowledge, are they engaged in intentional critical reflection, gauging their intercultural competence? Are they actively seeking to improve their continuous learning, interpersonal engagement, and hardiness? What cultural assets and ancestral heritage do they bring to our EPP programs to support their knowledge and goals to explore education globally?

Through our discourse and engagement with our students we need to tap into their funds of knowledge to unearth and maximize future possibilities for them. Delahanty who is heading to Taiwan for his Fulbright experience noted, “I feel that my unique experiences in studying the Mandarin language and culture for many years have provided me with a good basis for a basic understanding of what I may expect abroad and my experience in the education program at UD has prepared me well to teach and advocate for diverse groups of students”. Students must be immersed in core knowledge with global education competencies embedded in diversity courses to deepen their understanding of their own cultures while appreciating others. It is imperative then, to consider these three components in our diversity course as students take a deep dive unpacking the complexity of intercultural competence.

  1. Scholarly Inquiry. With a central focus on one or more dimensions of human diversity, preservice teachers examine and immerse themselves in understanding contemporary social issues and problems through an interdisciplinary approach to research issues within the United States and in global educational spaces. Using a framework and research on culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies, our preservice teachers are engaged in using the scholarly work of minoritized, marginalized, and global scholars to respond to challenging issues we face in education. Students use international and national case studies in completing their research assignments for the course.

  2. Experiential Immersion. Through their field experiences with international students, culturally and linguistically diverse immigrants and refugee students and diverse programs on campus, preservice teachers develop and appreciate respect for cultural differences and openness towards people from other cultures. Teacher educators should not be mere visitors’ or ‘saviors’ in diverse clinical placements but be fully immersed in interculturally engaging and meaningful experiences which is a mutually beneficial reciprocal exchange that enriches their lives. While these are often brief experiences, they should give students authentic opportunities to bravely embark on global experiences. Like Schuller, a Fulbright recipient headed to her ancestral home, Romania shared “Fulbright is a program that will allow me to truly immerse myself in the culture because of the allotted time for exploration in my new host city and a supplemental project where I can truly engage with the community. I will be able to focus on learning about the customs, the language, the culture, the people, and everything that comes with living in a foreign city. There was a time when culture shock felt scary, but now I see it as an adventure and opportunity to learn and grow as a person while forming meaningful relationships with people who are different from me!”

  3. Disciplined Reflection. Students who can pose their questions and investigate cultural interactions are more likely to reflect on the complexities they present (Boix Mansilla & Jackson, 2023). At the University of Dayton, the EPP intentionally creates a space for preservice teachers to interrogate their own identities while learning about educating student populations in diverse settings, critically understanding the cultures, histories, times, and places of multiple others, as marked by various manifestations of difference. Using an Intercultural Effectiveness Survey (IES), preservice teachers recognize their positionality regardless of their own backgrounds and examine their future practices in advocating for the common good for all students. They also critically reflect on their intercultural competence and create action steps to grow as they interact with diverse populations in the local community. Both recipients acknowledged the challenges they may face. Delahanty shared, “Regardless of my experiences, I still feel somewhat unprepared, as I simply do not know how effective these previous experiences will be while abroad. I am admittedly a bit nervous about many facets of this program, but I am definitely more excited and anxious to experience it for myself.”

Global education is no longer so far removed from our students in EPP programs. We bear the responsibility to arm our preservice teachers with the necessary tools to be global citizens of the world. As Schuller shared, “While I know that teaching in a foreign space will be a challenge, it is an exciting one that I feel prepared to take on. My mindset going into this opportunity is based around learning from the people there and fully embracing my new environment, rather than being afraid of the cultural differences.” Ultimately, EPPs must produce educators who are global citizens with attitudes of empathy, solidarity, and respect for differences and diversity to empower students anywhere in their local communities or across the globe.


Boix Mansilla, V., & Jackson, A. (2023). Educating for global competence: Preparing our students

to engage the world. ASCD.

Piper, J. (2023). Top producers of Fulbright U.S. scholars and students, 2022-2023. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ullom, C.E., & Guler, N. (2023). At school in the world. Developing globally engaged teachers. Rowman and Littlefield.

Novea McIntosh, Ed.D., is an assistant professor of teacher education at Dayton University. She is also a member of the Longview Foundation-supported Global Education Faculty Professional Learning Community (PLC) and AACTE’s Global Diversity Committee.