Building a platform for global teaching competencies to advance equitable education in diverse classrooms

7th November 2023

Author: Joyce A. Pittman, Ph.D., Clinical Professor Emeritus, Drexel University School of Education - Center for Pedagogical Innovation

Joyce A. Pittman photo

Research into threats to providing quality and equitable education confronting teacher education and professional development infrastructure is influencing thinking about curriculum and instruction in an increasingly interconnected world.

Dr Joyce Pittman, Principal Investigator and Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, Schools of Education, highlights the impacts of the research, including the launch of a five-year research study on developing teachers global teaching competency skills.

Preparing teachers and learners for global engagement

In an increasingly interconnected world, we have observed the importance of preparing teachers and students for global engagement. Our research addresses the critical need for educators to possess global teaching competencies to effectively navigate diverse classrooms and cultivate global competence in their students. The research stems from recognising a significant portion of modern world jobs are linked to international trade, emphasising the urgency of equipping students with skills to thrive in a globalised workforce.

Our team champions a collaborative initiative between the Drexel University's School of Education and University of Pennsylvania to develop a comprehensive curriculum and professional development approach centered on global teaching competencies. As educational researchers, leaders and pedagogists, we recognise the evolving dynamics where students represent a myriad of cultures, languages, and backgrounds. The goal is to create equitable and inclusive educational environments by empowering educators to teach across cultural boundaries (SDG 4).

Our study draws from NAFSA's Global Preparation Lens for the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, which identifies key knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for globally competent teaching. However, we find a critical gap exists in understanding how GT competencies are integrated, assessed, and implemented within teacher education programs and K-12 classrooms. This research examines perceptions of teacher education professors, preservice teachers, and educational leadership students regarding the meaning of global competence and its practical application.

Global competence and beyond

We can see from the growing diversity this research is timely, given the growing recognition that global competence extends beyond personal interactions to a pivotal role in a nation's economic growth and competitiveness. The  work in this initiative ask a guiding question: Can educators effectively empower their students with global knowledge and skills if they themselves lack the requisite global teaching competencies?

By leveraging a five-year planning sub-grant from the University of Pennsylvania Area Studies Centers Title VI U.S. Department of Education grant, this initiative takes a holistic approach to exploring global teaching competencies. The project's multidisciplinary nature ensures a comprehensive look into incorporating elements of global and international education, intercultural competence, social justice, equity, and language learning. Moreover, the initiative aligns with several UN Sustainable Development Goals, further highlighting its potential for driving positive societal change. In particular, SDG 4 Quality Education.


Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is fundamental for self-respect. It is the key to prosperity and opens a world of opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a progressive, healthy society. Learning benefits every human being and should be available to all."

More information on SDG 4

Global Teach Connection (GTC)

Ultimately, we aim to offer students, teachers, and leaders the essential resources, support, and opportunities to develop understandings required for the seamless integration of global competencies into their classrooms and teaching practice. We believe this preparation is vital to equip students for success in an ever-evolving world.

Reimagining global competence and impact

Improving your global teaching skills takes time and effort, but it is worth it. By teaching for global competence, you can help your students to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in our increasingly interconnected world.

Global competence is the capacity to examine local, global, and intercultural issues to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate, and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development (OECD, 2018).    

Reflecting on growing your global competence

What are you doing well? What areas do you want to improve? You can do this by thinking about your teaching practices, the resources you use, and the feedback you have received from students and colleagues.

In conclusion, this emerging research responds to a pressing need in modern education by focusing on the development and implementation of global teaching competencies.

By collaborating between two prominent institutions, the study strives to empower educators to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of a globally interconnected world.

Ultimately, the research seeks to promote practical integration of global competence within teacher education and classroom practice, contributing to a more inclusive and globally conscious education system.

Visit Drexel University School of Education for more information about the Global Teach Connection Initiative and Research.

our goals

Quality education for all

We believe in quality education for everyone, everywhere and by highlighting the issue and working with experts in the field, we can start to find ways we can all be part of the solution.