Illinois House introduces Global Scholar Certificate program

By Adela Crandell Durkee For Chronicle Media
One of the committee meetings of the Global Scholar Certificate Initiative. (Photo by Seth Brady)

One of the committee meetings of the Global Scholar Certificate Initiative. (Photo by Seth Brady)

For the first time in Illinois history, graduates can be recognized for demonstrating global skills and competencies by coursework, service, interaction with global peers, and a capstone project demonstrating their applied knowledge thanks to the passage of House Bill 4983.

Cynthia Solo (D-Chicago) and Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) on Feb. 8 sponsored HB 4983, an amendment to the School Code. HB 4983, allows schools throughout the State to award an Illinois Global Scholar Certificate to high school graduates.

The Global Scholar initiative began in the fall of 2014. Seth Brady, as a “Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowship” recipient, granted by the State Department, learned that two states were introducing certificate programs to bolster global education. “As a teacher, I believe strongly that students need to become globally competent in order to compete and collaborate effectively.” Brady’s colleagues agreed.

More than 150 stakeholders began what became a groundswell of people dedicating their time, thinking, and connections to support Global Education in Illinois. The group includes members of the business community, globally focused organizations, students, and educators from across the state. The group carefully considered how to ensure that certificate requirements could be achieved by a wide variety of students in school districts across the state at no additional cost to districts or students.

Jobs across Illinois, now more than ever, are more dependent on global supply lines and customers. The Illinois Global Scholar Research suggests that future careers will depend upon students’ ability to work and collaborate in a multiple cultural world.

In the not-too-distant past, cultural understanding was a niche skill needed for world travelers and diplomats. Today, cultivating a global character is valuable for virtually the entire workforce.

“Regardless of how people feel about the world’s increasing interconnectedness, students need to navigate it,” said Brady. “One of the enduring goals of education is to prepare citizens for the challenges they will face.”

Brian Richard, assistant director of community economic and workforce development at Northern Illinois helped identify and flesh out what the requirements for certifications. He is excited about HB 4983.

“It’s important to open the eyes of students to what’s going on in the world,” he said. “High school students will be intensely exposed to an international type curriculum.”

Individual school districts determine which courses have a significant global focus, so no changes to any school’s curriculum need be introduced.

President of the Peoria World Affairs Council, Don Samford, strongly supports Illinois’ Global Scholar project stating that “global interconnections have a major impact on U.S. foreign policy decisions and those of the business community, makes students educated in global issues and thinking more competitive and more valuable!”

Teacher David Johnson, from District 265 in Farmington, sees value in the certificate for his largely rural community.

“The Global Scholar Certification program is affordable for all districts in terms of required resources and provides an exceptional opportunity for students to cultivate the skills required for global citizenship.”

Tricia Hanus, an International Baccalaureate Coordinator from Back of the Yards High School, describes the certificate as “an important tool to compete and collaborate in an increasingly globalized world. This certificate will help students achieve success by validating the skills and knowledge students need to succeed our rapidly changing world.”

Eligible courses include the Arts, World Languages, Social Studies, Communication Arts, Sciences, and CTE.

With the passage of HB 4983, Illinois will join North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Georgia, who already adopted global certificates.

Dr. Gerhardt Fisher from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction sees the Wisconsin Global Education Certificate as crucial to his state’s future.

“Students are eager to learn about the world and learn other languages,” says Fischer. “Our annual Global Youth Summits are well over capacity. Employers tell us they are looking for globally competent and multilingual employees, and current and future generations need to understand the complexities of the global economy and humanitarian issues triggered by migration shifts across the globe.”

According to Fischer, Wisconsin’s certificate has been extremely successful as “students are participating in numbers well above our initial expectations.”

For more information about HB 4983 contact Cynthia Solo (D-Chicago) contact her office, (217) 782-0150 or visit the Illinois General Assembly website. For additional information on Illinois Global Scholar visit or follow the legislation of twitter by following @ILGlobalScholar.


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— Illinois House introduces Global Scholar Certificate program —