Partnerships Between Universities and K-12 Schools

by Robin Vitucci

The need for university/K-12 connections has become critical in recent years due to the increased role of teachers to foster global learning. Research suggests that teachers need time to practice their craft as part of adequate training. According to Ken Zeichner, however, there is a disconnect between what candidates learn in their preparation programs and what opportunities they have in their clinical experience to practice what they learn, especially as it relates to global education. Teacher training and education might be more useful when higher education institutions foster relationships with K-12 schools and create programs centered around the needs of the students those teachers will likely teach. Several institutions around the country have created programs to support teacher candidates and practicing teachers in bringing an international dimension into their classrooms.

In the Office of K-12 Outreach at Michigan State University, faculty members work directly with schools and school districts through research and professional development to improve student outcomes. This program incorporates the College of Education’s commitment to internationalizing teacher education and responds to the changing needs of the student population in the area. The program sponsors the Internationalizing Michigan Education Annual Conference focused on issues such as global education and system redesign.

The University of Maryland’s College of Education hosts a similar annual conference through the Office of International Initiatives, bringing together policymakers, educators, teacher educators, faculty, and administrators in higher education to collaborate around internationalization.

Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education aims to prepare students for global citizenship through programs in the state of New Jersey and beyond.  The School engages in partnerships with local and global communities in its “Jersey Roots, Global Reach” program. As part of this work, the school has hosted events to bring together teacher education faculties with teacher educators, administrators, teachers, and students to learn how to prepare teachers for a global society.

The World History Initiative is a partnership between The College of Education at the University of Michigan and the University’s Title VI centers, aimed at training teachers for the state’s new world history requirement. The program supports pre-service and current teachers to create and share curriculum models. Professional development workshops hosted by the University provide practicing teachers with tools to help better teach their students to state context expectations.

Other programs across the country provide resources to support K-12 partnerships in global education, either through online materials or events. Examples include:

  • The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill World View program provides year-round professional development opportunities aimed at helping public schools and community colleges around the state develop more intercultural curricula through with a focus on global issues. Symposia, seminars, and international visits are just some of the programs held by World View. Additionally, they provide follow-up support and help schools develop action plans for applying global initiatives.
  • The Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois provides a breadth of K-12 educational resources to support their mission of globalizing research and teaching. These resources include broad information around global topics as well as more specific curricular tools such as lesson plans and teaching guides. The center also provides professional development workshops for teachers and students, including a global studies summer workshop for high school students.
  • Merry Merryfield, a former social studies professor from Ohio State University, created the TeachGlobalEd website, providing K-12 teachers with a listserv, access to high quality scholarship, primary sources, and web-based resources on global education. The site is now hosted by the University of Indiana.
  • Indiana University has a Center for the Study of Global Change as part of its School of Global and International Studies, with faculty from across the university, including the School of Education. The Center aims to infuse global perspectives in teaching and learning from Pre-K12 through undergraduate and graduate institutions.
  • The Colorado College Department of Education hosts an International Teaching and Learning Institute to give experienced teachers an opportunity to engage in comparative educational studies by teaching abroad and then sharing implications of their experiences for American classrooms.



Faculty and Campus Strategies: 
Instructional Methods: 
Professional Education Coursework: 
Resources in the Field: