The advent of the 21st Century and the institutional planning process has afforded Ithaca College an opportunity to weigh its past accomplishments and to chart a course in keeping with the new expectations and new challenges of the future. As a result, the College mission emphasizes the necessity to prepare students for the responsibilities of citizenship and service in a global community.
This preparation entails an understanding of the continuum along which domestic multicultural concerns, migration, international relations, and globalization all lie. To prepare our students to better understand this continuum and to facilitate their interaction with the critical points along the continuum, overseas travel must be tied to the on-campus curriculum. The overseas experience must consider issues of social justice; sustainability in keeping with the UNESCO definition; and the economic connections that tie us to the rest of the world. Few societies today can be defined in culturally monolithic terms. No matter where we may turn, we encounter the tensions created by difference, migration, race, and the increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots in the local, national, and international spheres.
Ithaca College fulfils its mission by offering students the opportunity to see themselves as actors both in local and world communities and by offering them preparation for competition in a global economy. All of us now think about how to handle the encounter with difference, whether at home or abroad; how to accommodate rapid change; and how to acquire new knowledge and new skills when we need them. We now fully understand the importance of speaking more than one language and the difficulty of communicating across our differences in search of common ground.
According to Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, “China and India will challenge the role of the United States as a super power.” Daniel Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind, says the future will belong to those who create content, not to those who place emphasis on technology alone. Richard Florida, author of The Flight of the Creative Class, asserts that the winners in the global competition will be those population centers that offer a tolerant environment for diverse talent from across the globe with the technology necessary to communicate and distribute new ideas, services, and products. The combination of creative talent, technology, and tolerance of difference, he asserts, is essential to effective competition in a global economy. This is the world in which Ithaca College seeks to make a difference for its students.
Making a difference means forging connections between the curriculum and experiential learning, between the campus and world events, and between the privilege of opportunity and the responsibility of service. Therefore, diversity means on-campus study, study abroad, internships and service at home and abroad. Ithaca College combines curriculum and experience to foster the journey along the continuum of difference.