A Global Outlook
The world is rapidly moving toward greater interdependency and globalization, driven by technological advances, economic opportunities, and intellectual curiosity. There is more movement across national boundaries than ever before: of people, money, information, ideas, images, and much more. We are embedded among billions of people, mostly strangers, yet we need them and they need us: to make a living; to travel; to cope with widespread problems like infectious diseases and terrorism; to secure the safety of our food, water, and environment; and to protect us physically. So now we humans in virtually every country must of necessity find decent ways to interact with strangers, move beyond stereotypes, and to the extent possible turn strangers into familiar people, even turn potential adversaries into friends. Yet this is a task that goes far beyond the prior experience of humanity. Yes, we have done some of this before, but much less than we will have to do as a practical matter in the twenty first century. In our ancient past, this would have been exceedingly difficult. Among monkeys and apes, a very powerful instigator for harmful aggression is the crowding of strangers in the presence of valued resources. Probably the same was true for our early human ancestors over many millennia. Now we have to learn how to transcend ancient suspicions and biases, learn how to live together with people who are initially strange and perhaps implicitly threatening. To do so, we must widen the horizons of education from childhood onward and learn–in a reasonable sampling process–about other peoples, cultures, ideas, preferences, ways of life. In this process, strangeness can be converted to familiarity, suspicion to fascination. That is why international education bears not only on economic well-being in a world of technoeconomic globalization, but it also bears on the vital issues of war and peace. Americans have typically focused their attention on domestic concerns rather than looking abroad. But this mindset is no longer viable. As the world community continues to become evermore interconnected, U.S. citizens will need to look beyond their shores with an attitude of curiosity and open-mindedness. The same need exists in many nations throughout the world. And this extends to our children.
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