by Sadaf Sajjad, Associate Professor of Psychology 

It was an immense honor and pleasure for me to be selected to the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) for the year 2020-2021. FLC is a joint effort of Austin College’s International Programs and the University of Texas at Austin’s outreach consortium. I met virtually every month with my cohort and FLC facilitators, and we were provided the opportunity to learn from the scholars who came up with topics such as human rights, African diaspora studies, humanitarian regime, and the categories of need among Syrian exiles in Paris, east European and Eurasian studies, and topics such as generating global activism were discussed with an insightful global approach.

I always had an intense desire to understand and integrate the global context of psychological knowledge into my instruction. This is not possible without understanding the globalization process. I always felt that we instructors especially belonging to the social sciences or psychology need a global lens to teach these subjects. Not long ago, psychology teachers were simply imparting some basic facts related to psychology, theories and history related to psychology, and students were passively writing notes and retaining the knowledge for the exam, until in the late twenties when emphasis on critical thinking approach was given and students got to know how to think critically about that knowledge. There is a high need to make a main context of globalizing and using a global studies framework to think critically about applying psychological knowledge while working in this global village.

FLC has made me contemplate on how to infuse global issues into my psychology courses. It helped me in ensuring me to have cultural awareness myself through gaining competency by reading, meeting, and interacting with a variety of cultures and then to bring it to my classroom. My experience with FLC also made me realize that global issues should be embedded in the entire curriculum rather than just for one topic. My FLC cohort also helped me through their suggestions for making the global aspect psychology curricula and one of the suggestions was to make use of electronic media to introduce and get in touch with other people of different cultures. Another very important suggestion which I got from the FLC facilitators was to conduct an empirical research on our academic approaches and teaching and find out the effectiveness of the global subject matter and its influence on the effectiveness of learning of our students. Collecting this data will improve the effectiveness of teaching and hence will enhance students’ learning.

This FLC environment of learning provided me with the opportunity to share my passion for teaching with my fellow colleagues and on a broader level integrate the global aspect in my Psychology course. As a result, I was able to integrate some global and peace and conflict aspects in my course and aligned my course and program level objectives successfully for Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 2301) for the Spring of 2021. I am also utilizing this knowledge in writing an open educational resource material for my PSYC 2301 course with the inclusion of global and peace and conflict studies.

Thank you FLC (2020-2021) for providing such an enriching learning environment.