Thursday 28 May 2015

Global Integrators--10

GI Training
Pathways for Preparation
Connecticut College, USA, 17 May 2015*
(graduation, good-byes, global pathways)
A much traveled person knows many things
and a person of great experience will talk sound sense.
Ecclesiasticus 34:9, circa 190 B.C.

We think that the time is coming for a diversity of colleagues to come together intentionally, visibly, and practically on behalf of global integration (GI). GI put simply is how we skillfully integrate our lives and values on behalf of the issues facing humanity. Likewise we think that the time is coming for colleagues to carefully reflect and act on what it means to be good global learners-practitioners--to seriously consider what it means to be what we are calling global integrators (GI-People).


We were recently asked three questions by a university student about preparation for work in GI. This entry includes the three questions and our answers, with applications mostly in our fields of mental health/member care and mostly in a North American context. We hope this material can be used as a springboard for discussion that could help stimulate and shape GI training in its many emerging forms. To begin...

There are many experiential paths for the foundational and ongoing training needed to do GI well. And since GI and GI related areas are still being developed, there is definitely no definitive word on which path or even paths to take!  So think of GI training as involving a great variety or “pathways for preparation” which reflect the great variety of “pathways for practice.” Keep in mind too that GI is a domain, a mentality, a practice, an ethical necessity...

There are a growing number of books for the general public that fit well with the GI domain.  For example we recently read the first chapter in A Path Appears (2014) by Nicolas Kristof and Cherl WuDun. The book includes stories of people around the world who in different ways and with different backgrounds are helping to forge paths for doing good. These inspiring, factual stories reflect what GI is about. Another example is the Summer 2014 special issue of the Journal of Psychology and Theology on Psychology in the Global Context.
Question 1. What academic and experiential recommendations would you have for starting out in GI? Specifically for those involved in undergraduate studies in mental health/behavioral sciences, would you recommend gaining experience with mental health in other countries as well as one’s own passport country, before pursuing doctoral studies?"

Based on the definition of GI (i.e. linking values and skills, connecting relationally and contributing relevantly, skillfully addressing major human problems):
--Do everything you can to get solid training and certification in a professional field, like psychology.
--If possible do a double major including 'international relations' or something like it. If that is not possible then track with anything global/international happening at your university (and areas of interest like online events). 
--In addition, for the long term, as in our case, we have pretty much developed our own ad hoc, ongoing 'international relations' training by what we attend and study.
--Find a mentor involved in global things.
--Do a dissertation that includes something global. 
--Find or create a 'caravan of colleagues' who want to go in the GI direction.

In general, we suggest continuing studies from a BA into an MA or doctoral program provided that the above suggestions are happening including opportunities to work with a diversity of people and some global issues. If you have an opportunity to do an internship in an area related to GI (noting that GI is a broad domain) then that could serve you well too as an interim link/experience to post-grad studies (as far as we know there is one program in international psychology in the USA at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology--with programs in a couple cities like DC). There are also masters programs in global mental health (GMH)--e.g. Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (now called William James College, which also includes counseling psychology and the required courses towards certification). More MA programs and courses/training related to GMH (many connected to universities with psychiatry/medical schools and schools of public health) are listed at the GMH-Map website.
Question 2. What are three of the main characteristics needed to be successful in this field?"

The short answer regarding characteristics: ability to build and maintain healthy relationships, commitment to integrity in spite of the costs, ongoing learning including intentionally and humbly crossing sectors and comfort zones, staying current, and well, something about perseverance and suffering...

a. Build and maintain relationships over the long term. Expect problems, dysfunction etc. and develop relational skills and above all real integrity for navigating the ups and downs of relationships. Part Two in Global Member Care (volume one): The Pearls and Perils of Good Practice (2011), is all about this area—i.e. personal, leadership, and organizational health/dysfunction.

b. Ongoing learning and familiarity with the integrated efforts to promote human wellbeing and sustainable development--hence major on your specialty but at least minor on the broader context and realities that are dramatically shaping people/planet. Towards this end we encourage folks to track with the current efforts for 'sustainable development' (see our recent CORE Member Care weblog entry on sustainable development).

c. Similar to the above--"cross sectors." See the previous weblog entries which are based on chapter 2 in our book Global Member Care (volume two): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (Charting Your Course through the Sectors").  So a willingness to expand one’s “experiential and professional boundaries” is important, which may also involve being able to tolerate:  uncertainly, ambiguity, not being fully recognized for one’s contributions or potential contributions], etc.

d. Learn another language--it opens doors, minds etc. We did this with Spanish and French. (we see language learning is primarily a social experience and not just an academic course.)

e. Support friends and colleagues as they explore/find their "global niches' knowing that people have different interests and capacities and commitments that affect their "going global."

f. Note: The student writing us was an Evangelical Christian. So we said: Stay close to your First Love (Rev. 2), memorize and meditate on Scriptures. Also read and connect with things outside of the Evangelical community.
Question 3. Is there anything about starting and working in Global Integration that you wish you had known at the beginning?

a. During graduate school, I (Kelly) wish I could have connected my studies in psychology with the wider world and the need to cross sectors. Even though I actively worked in short-term mission during my graduate studies, it has its own bubbles and limits. Back then (1980s) doing mission in some ways was seen as involvement in the broader world which it was of course yet in some ways mission was seen as synonymous with the broader, international world, and it actually was/is only part of it.

b. "Christian" "leaders" and organizations can have serious gaps in their integrity. Corruption is widespread. Protecting turf, livelihoods, and cover-ups can trump doing what is right.

c. Making a living for people is a core concern (school loan debt too) and altruistic ideals are not enough to sustain people's interest/involvements over the long haul.

*Photo: Ashling O'Donnell, our youngest of two children,  in the midst of colleagues and a professor. She graduated from Connecticut College a few days ago, with a BA in international relations and religious studies, and as part of an increasingly globalized academic community--and world. Ashling was also part of the three-year CISLA program (Center for International Studies and Liberal Arts) at the college which enables a selected cohort of student-scholars to further internationalize their majors through intensive language study, special workshops, and a funded international internship. Most of the students we know recognize the privilege they have to be able to study at a private institution like Connecticut College and their responsibility to  be forces for good in the world--do well and do good.

No comments: