Definitions of Global Learning

As institutions seek to be more intentional about their global learning, many institutions have guiding definitions of global learning. Here is a list of definitions from a variety of AAC&U member institutions.

Dozens of individuals from a variety of disciplines and institutions created this definition of global learning as part of AAC&U’s Shared Futures: Global and Social Responsibility initiative. They defined global learning as

“. . . a critical analysis of and an engagement with complex, interdependent global systems and legacies (such as natural, physical, social, cultural, economic, and political) and their implications for people's lives and the earth's sustainability.”

Sample Global Learning Definitions

  • Carnegie Classification: Master's Colleges & Universities: Larger Programs

    Global Learning Definition:
    Global engagement at Arcadia University prepares students for lives of informed contribution in a rapidly changing global society. Through strategic institutional partnerships and innovative academic, experiential and co-curricular programming expressed in diverse and challenging global contexts, students learn to think critically, observe skillfully, reflect thoughtfully and participate meaningfully.

  • Carnegie Classification: Baccalaureate Colleges: Arts & Sciences Focus

    Global Philosophy Definition:
    Dickinson students utilize the timeless rigors of liberal learning to confront the most critical challenges of our globalized age. Foreign language study, regional and area studies, and the interdisciplinary investigation of the causes and consequences of globalization: these three elements comprise the core of our approach to Global Study at the College. Far from being fragmented or oppositional, these elements--like most things in our era--are interconnected and accreting.

  • Carnegie Classification: Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity

    Global Learning at MSU:
    An undergraduate experience should instill in students the capacity to effect positive change in their world. This generation of students should be known for the depth and breadth of their individual abilities and for the power of their collective intelligence: including the ability to apply comprehensive knowledge of a discipline, to understand the complex nature of systems, to use advanced technologies in innovative ways, and to apply professional qualities necessary to navigate among and lead members of multifunctional teams in order to address complex global challenges. Undergraduate education should be understood as the foundation for students’ continuing growth and development. It should promote the knowledge, attitudes, and abilities that prepare students to become global-ready citizens, effective members of diverse communities, and lifelong learners.

    Global Learning Outcomes

  • Carnegie Classification: Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity

    Global Learning Definition:
    Global learning at UC Davis is a combination of local, regional, national, and international experiences through which students develop key skills, knowledge, and networks that help them build global awareness, engage global diversity, and pursue collaborative and equitable global action.

  • Carnegie Classification: Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity

    USF defines global learning within the context of global citizenship. Specifically, we define a global citizen as someone who engages meaningfully and effectively with diverse people, places, events, opportunities, and challenges. Our student learning outcomes for the Global Citizens Project are divided into cognitive and affective/conative domains (see below) and grouped into three broader competencies (global awareness, global responsibility, and global participation) in our conceptual framework found at

  • Carnegie Classification: Doctoral Universities: Higher Research Activity

    Definition of Internationalization:
    Internationalization is built into the university's 2017-2022 strategic plan "Breaking Through."

    A key value of the university is "Diversity and Internationalization:"

    A diverse and international community that includes and respects different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, abilities, cultures and worldviews multiplies our capacity to explore, innovate and educate.

    “This commitment demonstrates our recognition of the importance of providing international perspectives to our students, positioning them for competitive success in the 21st century workforce, and providing value to our partners throughout Wyoming.”

    “As Wyoming’s sole research university, we embrace the opportunity to extend internationalization not just on the Laramie campus, but throughout UW’s state--‐wide presence, and in partnership with our community college and K--‐12 colleagues.”