north carolina

North Carolina has had a long history of policy-driven and grassroots international education initiatives. Its university system is a central resource for statewide activities. Read on.

World Languages

North Carolina learns Chinese! Close to 10,000 K-12 students in North Carolina are studying Chinese in 2013-2014, compared to about 300 just four years earlier. Why the huge increase? The Center for International Understanding (CIU), in partnership with College Board and Hanban, an affiliate of the Chinese Ministry of Education, has developed the nation’s first statewide network of Confucius Classrooms. Through this innovative program, Chinese Guest Teachers are placed in participating North Carolina schools to share authentic Chinese language and culture learning. Currently there are 30 Guest Teachers in 43 Confucius Classrooms in North Carolina, directly impacting more than 7,000 students.

Teacher Preparation

Since the 2009 Center for International Understanding Global Engagement Summit, Colleges of Education within the University of North Carolina system have focused on internationalization efforts with the teacher education programs at their respective institutions. A primary aim has been to provide future K-12 teachers with international curricula, activities, and experiences during their pre-service education so they will be better prepared to implement these theories and ideas into the K-12 classroom as student-teachers and teachers. A recent Longview Foundation grant is furthering these efforts. Lead campus NC State University and its public and private higher education partners in North Carolina are developing and sharing effective strategies, identifying and overcoming policy challenges and collaborating internationalization efforts through shared resources, apprenticeships and mentoring. NC State University and other campuses are also expanding student teaching opportunities abroad for education students.

Professional Development

North Carolina’s lead organizations in providing global professional development are the Center for International Understanding (CIU) and World View, both attached to the University of North Carolina system. CIU’s Global Teachers programs are short-term study programs that immerse teachers in a culture different from their own. They learn about a country’s history, culture, and education system and experience homestays that connect them directly with host families to experience the rhythms of daily life. Global teachers create lesson plans in all subject areas across all grade levels to help bring a global view to the curriculum to build student’s global competence. Recent destinations include India, China, Denmark, and Germany. World View holds an annual K-12 Global Education Symposium that explores significant global issues, offers best practices in global education, and provides educators an opportunity to develop a global action plan for their classroom, school, or system. Hundreds of educators participate in World View’s programs each year. World View also provides international study visits for teachers.

Workforce Development

The North Carolina State Board of Education is focused on K-12 global education and its impact on preparing a globally competent workforce. Its recent report, Preparing Students for the World: Final Report of the State Board of Education's Task Force on Global Education, calls for a comprehensive statewide strategy. Specifically, the report outlines five recommendations: 1) Robust and cutting-edge teacher support and tools; 2) Leading-edge language instruction; 3) New school models focused on international education; 4) District networking and recognition, including a global ready designation for schools; and 5) External partners to move this agenda.

Common Core

North Carolina adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010 as its Standard Course of Study for English language arts and mathematics and began implementation statewide in all public schools in the 2012-13 school year. However, according to Preparing Students for the World: Final Report of the State Board of Education’s Task Force on Global Education, adopted January 9, 2013: “While the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, comprised of new Common Core and North Carolina Essential Standards, will make our students more competitive, they will not by themselves make them more globally aware.

Case Studies

China and India are two strategic geographic areas of focus for the UNC system. Two recent reports outline recommendations for increasing relationships and partnerships between North Carolina and these two countries. The first is A Portal for Progress: Increasing Collaboration Between UNC and India and the second is The Dragon and The Dogwood: A Way Forward for the University of North Carolina and China.

The University of North Carolina has launched a website to recruit international students to its 16 campuses throughout the state.

In January 2013, the North Carolina Board of Education adopted Preparing Students for the World: Final Report of the State Board of Education’s Task Force on Global Education.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, after sponsoring and participating on the Center for International Understanding’s and NC Public School Forum’s study program to Singapore in 2010, launched a very successful pilot program to introduce Singapore Math in select North Carolina elementary schools.

VIF International Programs in Chapel Hill, NC coordinate the North Carolina Global Schools Network: “Designating and supporting global teachers, leaders, schools and districts, the Global Schools Network develops global-ready citizens through inquiry-based professional development and standards-aligned curriculum.”  


Stephanie Caplan
[email protected]


North Carolina Association of International Educators

World Affairs Council of Charlotte

World Affairs Council of E. North Carolina (Greenville)

World Affairs Council of W. North Carolina (Asheville)

Global Competence Resources

Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partnered to define global competence and the skills and abilities that students need to demonstrate to be globally competent.