Provost’s Global Forum explores international education

The 2019 Provost’s Global Forum, “Why School? International Perspectives on Education and Social Transformation,” will examine the structures of school systems and the influence they have on society and change.


Ryan Adams

The outside to the International Programs center is seen inside the Old Capitol Mall on Wednesday, April 10.

Rachel Steil, News Reporter

In the U.S., schools are structured so students move from classroom to classroom. Students see different teachers and classmates every hour. However, this is not the case worldwide.

In Singapore, students get into a track based on what they are studying. Students are in class all day with the same people.

This reflects the disparity in societal views between the two societies. The former emphasizes the individual, the latter emphasizes the group, said Gavin Fulmer, associate professor of science education and Provost’s Global Forum organizer.

Each year, the University of Iowa International Programs awards a collaborative group on campus that has presented a plan to examine a global issue, said Joan Kjaer, the International Programs director of communications and relations. The group then organizes the Provost’s Global Forum events.

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This year’s Provost’s Global Forum, “Why School? International Perspectives on Education and Social Transformation,” will explore how education describes and prescribes social norms.

The Provost’s Global Forum, hosted by UI International Programs, kicks off April 11 at 5 p.m. and will run through the evening of April 13.

“[The forum] focuses on the different contexts in which education takes place at different levels around the world,” said Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of International Programs.

The organizers of the 2019 forum are primarily from the UI College of Education, Kjaer said.

“I had the idea to share with the Global Forum some of the experiences that my colleagues and I have had with learning about school systems outside of the U.S. and school and society in the U.S.,” Fulmer said.

The forum will be inaugurated by a WorldCanvass event tonight at MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St. WorldCanvass events are hosted by Kjaer and explore international topics.

“What we hope to do with the WorldCanvass is to introduce people to what will be discussed during the larger event,” Kjaer said.

The WorldCanvass event is divided into three discussions and will be live-streamed on Facebook and archived on iTunes.

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The Joel Barkan Memorial Lecture will take place Friday at 6 p.m. in the Hyatt Place Hotel. Joel Barkan, the eponym of the lecture, was a UI political-science professor who was instrumental in creating International Programs at the university, Thomas said.

Supriya Baily of George Mason University will be the guest lecturer at the April 12 event.

“[Baily] will give a talk about when the demand for schools in developing countries outpaces the capacity of school,” Fulmer said.

The April 13 symposium will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the University Capitol Center.

“On Saturday, we have a series of panels with speakers from around the world, the University of Iowa, and other regional schools,” Fulmer said. “They will talk about the roles of schools in different societies at different levels.”

The goal of this year’s Provost’s Global Forum is to stimulate conversations about the relationships between school structures and society, Fulmer said.

“We think of school as something you go through as a kid, or as the university as a way to go out and find a job,” Fulmer said. “But at the heart, [school systems] are a part of society itself.”