Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State hosts forum on increasing global competence among Hoosier students

May 13, 2015

The Wabash Valley has built a global economic presence, but it's going to need an up-in-coming workforce that meets its needs and development of such a work force is going to begin at the K-12 level.

A statewide effort brought dozens of Indiana education leaders to the Hoosier Successes in the Global Workplace Forum the Indiana Department of Education hosted Tuesday at Indiana State University.

"I'll see a young person who was a graduate of one of our local high schools who attains a position at one of our manufacturers and they get sent to Japan for three months of training," said Steve Witt, executive director of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. "It's interesting to see them grow as an individual and realize that it's a big world, far beyond the boundaries of Terre Haute and Vigo County."

When travel abroad is not an option, as it isn't for some students at Lynhurst Seventh and Eighth Grade Center in Indianapolis, Principal Dan Wilson said teachers bring the world to them through pen pal activities and international partnerships with schools in China, Colombia and France.

"These are the kinds of experiences that communicate to our kids that there is a whole world out there, and what we've found it that they love it," Wilson said. "They have taken to it and their curiosity is exploding and when that happens, their dreams explode and when their dreams explode barriers start to fall. Global education is one of the things that helped turn our school around."

Foreign investors can be intrigued by the area's diversity and acceptance of other cultures, which Indiana State and St. Mary of the Woods College contribute greatly toward.

"When I think global competence, the role of education can't be ignored," said Dottie King, president of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and an Indiana State alumnus. "At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, many of our students are from rural Indiana, so we seek ways to make them well-traveled by hosted faculty-led trips abroad and also encourage students to come study here."

Indiana cornfields may give an impression of a state far removed from the global market, but Witt said the presence of international companies like Sony DADC, ADVICS and Companhia Siderurgica Nacional, LLC in the Wabash Valley show the state's competitiveness in a global market.

To be competitive will require students to have the capabilities to interact with people from different cultures, especially through language, geography and history, said Roberto Bohrer, operations director for Companhia Siderurgica Nacional, LLC.

"Knowing the language, geography and history helps you gain respect," he said. "I met a lot of people when I lived in Brazil and they would try to speak the language, even a little bit makes people feel that you have interest and it helps in gaining respect of people and builds confidence, which are critical for doing business in the world."

Mastering a second language can help access the culture without filters, allowing for betting understanding of cultures.

"I believe that educators are key factor in developing global competence because parents don't always have an incentive to talk (to their children) about the world, but if educators know it is important that can help a lot," Bohrer said.

The forum was part of a series of programs hosted by the state Education Department in conjunction with ISU's Center for Global Engagement, Bayh College of Education and the Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Council, the Asia Society's Partnership for Global Learning, Indiana University Center for the Study of Global Change and Area Studies Centers, and with support from the Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Understanding.

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or