Teacher education programs are greatly enhanced and more relevant for today’s world when international and global dimensions are included in programming and curricular design and implementation. The definitions of an internationalized teacher education program can vary, but several basic ideas are advanced in research and literature. Jane Knight defines internationalization of university general education curriculum as "the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimensions into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education." This definition, whether applied to university-wide curriculum or specifically to teacher education, emphasizes the importance of "integration."
Internationalization of teacher education is not an add-on, a frill, or an extra, according to a NAFSA report. It is not a priority, competing against other educational outcomes. It is integral to the fabric of a program and produces teachers who are globally competent and who can help their students to be globally competent in turn. It supports and enhances student acheivement across all content areas, at all levels.
Global competence is best seen as an integrated outlook on the world—not a collection of independent skills. The Asia Society, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers, has provided specifics related to curricular and programmatic internationalization. They conclude that an internationalized teacher education program produces teachers and learners who demonstrate global competence through awareness and curiosity about how the world works - informed by disciplinary and interdisciplinary insights. The internationalization of teacher education produces a globally competent teacher, one who possesses the competencies, attitudes, and habits of mind necessary for successful cross-cultural engagement at home and abroad. Specifically, globally competent teachers - those teachers who experience an Internationalized Teacher Education program - demonstrate the following characteristics as well as guide their students to do the same:
- Investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, framing significant problems and conducting well-crafted and age-appropriate research.
- Recognize perspectives, others’ and their own, articulating and explaining such perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully.
- Communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, bridging geographic, linguistic, ideological, and cultural barriers.
- Take action to improve conditions, viewing themselves as players in the world and participating reflectively.
Part of GTE's role is to act as a resource to connect teacher educators with its staff and steering committee; advocating for internationalization with relevant organizations and policymakers.