Amy Wan Presents: Multilingualism, Global Citizenship, and the Civic Promise of Higher Education

MAR 07, 2019 | 4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 07, 2019: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM





Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC)


The shift from “citizenship” to “global citizenship” in university missions can be explained by the need to prepare graduates to enter the arena of economic and cultural globalization. In this presentation, I examine how the production of global citizenship intersects with the civic promise of higher education. This intersection produces a globalized, but limited, civic space, one that contradicts long-standing efforts toward access in higher education. This presentation will examine how this globalized civic space is often produced through an educational goal, a content class taken, or a study abroad experience acquired, rather than through the integration of the increasingly transnational and diverse student populations at universities and colleges, as exemplified by policies about multilingual students. By framing language policies for multilingual students and for the global university within longstanding domestic concerns about access and democracy, I argue that current policies and practices narrow what a global citizen is, often at the expense of the global experiences of the present student body.

Amy J. Wan is Associate Professor of English at Queens College and The Graduate Center. She is the author of Producing Good Citizens: Literacy Training in Anxious Times (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014). Drawing from literacy studies, composition history, and citizenship theory, it analyzes how literacy is imagined to solve inequality by conferring, defining, and producing the status of citizenship and by extension, how literacy training instructs individuals to enact civic obligations, whether local or national. An article from this project, “In the Name of Citizenship,” was awarded the Richard Ohmann Outstanding Article Award in 2012. Her current research examines contemporary policy around language diversity, multilingual writers, and international students in the context of diversity and access rhetoric in U.S. higher education in the twentieth century and of the twenty-first century rhetoric of the global university. In addition to her interest in how literacy is used for citizen-making in school and non-school settings, she has also written about rhetorics of public policy, specifically on immigration policy and labor reform.