Jason W. Marion
Environmental Health Science
The modern world has observed profound political, economic and social shifts while experiencing technological advances that continue to alter our collective experience in ways recently unimaginable. In the diverse and interconnected society in which we now find ourselves, there is no denying the value in fostering global awareness and competence among our emerging leaders. Since our nation’s universities are among the main instruments for developing these leaders, research is needed to determine how these institutions can ensure an education for lifetime citizenship is provided. Using the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), data were obtained to assess growth in university students’ (1) understanding of people with differing racial and ethnic backgrounds, and (2) willingness to contribute to the welfare of communities. Using data collected from the 2011 NSSE Means and Frequency report for Eastern Kentucky University and 29 of its benchmark institutions, each institution’s respective civic outcome scores were recorded along with 14 potentially predictive university-directed actions. Each university’s freshmen data were compared with data from four-year seniors to assess growth in social awareness outcomes. Surprisingly, the data provided evidence regarding how little college students’ global and/or cultural awareness is enhanced during their undergraduate experience. Using linear regression, it was apparent that university prescribed interaction with students from diverse backgrounds and required service within the student’s community were shown to affect the most positive change in global citizenship development over the course of the higher learning experience.