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Why We Celebrate Global Education on National Gonzaga Day Jan. 25

School of Education Professor Deborah Nieding (standing) with Peggy Chilema from the Charles Lwanga College of Education in Zambia. Photo by Rajah Bose.

SPOKANE, Wash. – When Gonzaga celebrates its second annual National Gonzaga Day on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Zag Nation gathers in person and in spirit to rejoice in the impact of Gonzaga’s mission, the focus will be on the theme “Global Education, Global Celebration.” Following are but a few reasons why Gonzaga celebrates its global focus along with a few stories that illustrate how the University is having a global impact. 

Gonzaga Ranks No. 1 in Peace Corps
Gonzaga ranks No. 1 nationwide among small colleges and universities whose graduates serve in the Peace Corps. Click the following link to view the news release. Twenty-four Gonzaga undergraduate alumni serve overseas as Peace Corps volunteers, lifting Gonzaga’s historical total to 311 alumni with Peace Corps service. View the full list of Peace Corps Top Colleges. Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh said the rankings show how Gonzaga’s “tradition is one of transformation – both institutionally in educating people for others, and individually, as students and alumni carry their inspired missions into many career fields.” Gonzaga is among a select group of some 80 schools nationwide to offer a Master’s International program in collaboration with the Peace Corps.

Born of Intercultural Encounter,
Gonzaga’s Globalism Part of Its DNA
While a global emphasis has become a trend in higher education, Gonzaga was born of intercultural encounter. Jesuit priest Fr. Joseph Cataldo, S.J. founded Gonzaga in 1887 as an educational mission in the pioneer West.  Together with Jesuit companions from Europe, he traveled here to share Ignatian principles of faith and education with the indigenous people of the Northwest. Fifty years ago, Gonzaga started a study-abroad program in Florence, Italy – becoming one of the first U.S. universities to do so. Now Gonzaga provides more than 50 study-abroad programs for more than 600 students annually in 20 countries. Not all students are able to study abroad. For them, Gonzaga’s core curriculum, increasingly diverse student population, and opportunities to hear speakers such as Desmond Tutu, Ingrid Betancourt, Thomas L. Friedman and Jane Goodall, among others, provide a global perspective.

Gonzaga Collaborates with Zambian Teachers to Realize a Dream
Twenty-five teachers from the Charles Lwanga College of Education in Zambia will earn master’s degrees from Gonzaga in December 2014, culminating a seven-year collaboration to help the teachers realize their dream of turning the Jesuit school into an independent university – thereby sparking the transformation of teacher education in Zambia. Read how Gonzaga makes a difference in Africa.

How a Global Focus Benefits Students
Gonzaga’s global heritage and emphasis allows the University to educate and prepare students for opportunities and challenges anywhere in the world. “Our world is profoundly global, multicultural and international,” said Patricia O’Connell Killen, Gonzaga’s academic vice president. “Globally focused graduates acknowledge that their opportunities and challenges are inextricably linked to those of people in Syria, Afghanistan the Congo or any place in the world.” Other benefits of an increased global focus include faculty learning communities that consider the global content and global dimensions of their work, collaboration with universities worldwide to meet shared challenges, and scholarly and student exchanges.

Nearly Half of GU Students Study Abroad
In a key measure of its global engagement, 45 percent of GU students take part in a study-abroad experience. Gonzaga ranks 13th nationwide among peer schools for the number of students studying abroad for a full academic year.  Building a global community also means inviting people to Gonzaga from other cultures. Each year, Gonzaga serves some 500 international students – from undergraduate through doctorate, and in its model English-as-a-Second-Language program. Gonzaga’s classrooms include students from Albania and Australia, Canada and Colombia, Iceland and India, the Netherlands and Nigeria, Venezuela and Vietnam – among many others.

Center for Global Engagement Leads
Gonzaga’s new Center for Global Engagement manifests Gonzaga’s commitment to be a truly global institution, engaged through knowledge and compelled to do good.  The Center for Global Engagement serves as a hub of activity involving faculty, students, and visitors from abroad. The Center will hold a prominent place in the new John J. Hemmingson University Center when it opens (anticipated in 2015). Joseph Kinsella, Ph.D., an anthropologist with deep experience in international and intercultural education, directs the Center.

For more information on these or other stories, contact Peter Tormey at (509) 313-6132 or via email. 

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