A major milestone for a University of South Florida initiative is changing the way students see and interact with the world.
USF’s Global Citizens Project (GCP) has presented the Global Citizen Award to its 500th student. The Global Citizens Project is a university-wide initiative aimed at enhancing undergraduate students' global competencies through the development of new and improved curricular and co-curricular experiences.
The project was developed as part of USF’s 2015 reaccreditation, which included the enhancement of course curriculum, resulting in 154 courses certified as Global Citizen Project courses. The project also created major pathways and established the award program. Through this initiative, students across all USF campuses can experience high-impact global learning through study abroad, workshops, courses, programs such as Operation: Global Action, and engagement in global experiences that prepare them to thrive in a global market.
Thanks to strong student and staff support for the program, the university far exceeded its goal of awarding 300 students the Global Citizen Award during the first five years of the project.
To earn the Global Citizen Award, students must first attend a “Starting Your Adventure” workshop. Once enrolled, students choose from eight pre-approved globally focused events, as well as two larger activities. The USF Global Citizens Project has approved hundreds of global events each semester, and in fall 2020, offered virtual workshops, student organization events and TED Talks, allowing students to earn credit. Students then choose two globally focused activities to complete, including study abroad (when available), internships, research, Global Citizens certified courses, advanced foreign language coursework and community service. No coursework is mandated, and the award is designed to be flexible, allowing students to complete at their own pace and based on their own interests.
Award recipients have a notation placed on their university transcripts, their name listed in the commencement program, and are honored at a ceremony where they receive a certificate of completion and a medallion.
“The GCP office and staff have positively impacted my USF experience in that I have been able to learn about myself and my role as a global citizen,” said Isabel Henson, president of the GCP Student Association. “Giving students a goal to pursue through the Global Citizens Award pushes them outside of their comfort zones and creates lasting connections. I’m so happy to hear 500+ students have achieved this goal! Thank you GCP!”
The GCP has funded study abroad scholarships each summer to students pursuing or have received the award. This year, students found new and creative ways to adapt to the current environment, which did not allow for travel. These leaders collaborated through social media, events and workshops on topics related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as sustainable cities and communities and zero hunger, as well as hosting virtual office hours through spring 2021. Through this experience, students enhanced their leadership, public speaking and marketing skills. These students pushed themselves in new and creative ways and several were among the first 500 USF Global Citizen Award recipients.
“GCP has given me the opportunity to not only learn more about foreign cultures, but recognize and understand my own,” said Krista Cummings, a fall 2020 Global Citizen Award recipient, member of the Judy Genshaft Honors College and a 2020-2021 Student Leader. “Through this program, there are 500 more global citizens in this world, and I think that's absolutely incredible. I'm thankful for being involved in such an educational, yet exciting program.”
Student Programs Coordinator Jessica Lauther said, “The Global Citizen Award takes student experiences in various high-impact practices and rewards them for their dedication to global citizenship. The students are the ones getting involved in service, tackling research, pursuing courses and internships, and learning abroad. We package it together and have them reflect on the experience as a whole. The Global Citizen Award was founded on the basis of USF’s mission to create well-rounded global citizens and the fact that we’ve awarded over 500 students within five years says a lot about the students who attend USF and make it their own mission to contribute to their communities and understand the world around them.”
The Global Citizens Project continues to prove itself as a vital part of USF’s mission to create global citizens, graduate students within four years, and provide a safe, inclusive and vibrant community for learning, discovery, creative activities and transformative experiences.