Everyone has heard about “the dress,” but far fewer people know about the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded in Libya in February. In our generation, college students are sorely uninformed about what is happening in the world. Instead of encouraging students to study current events, we are isolated from the world’s problems and have become trapped in our own school bubble. Our school claims to prepare students to positively impact the world; shouldn’t we do that by educating students about world issues and events?
The responsibility belongs to both the university and its students. Most students do not attempt to learn about world events. In a recent poll I conducted, students claimed to not watch the news because they thought it was “boring,” “time-consuming” and “depressing.” One out of 70 students did not trust the news. Only 39 percent of students stay actively educated in world affairs.
Interestingly, while many students claim that staying informed about the news is “too time-consuming,” nine out of ten students watch Netflix on a regular basis. Staying informed can take less time than watching one episode of Parks and Recreation. By simply scanning a news website like CNN, students can easily become informed about breaking news stories.
But why don’t students do this if it takes so little time? In order to better understand this, we must consult the nature of our generation. Our generation centers on accessibility and instant gratification. The news does not appeal to our generation because students cannot see the connection of news literacy to their personal lives. It isn’t worth their time or effort if they cannot see an obvious reward.
Many students are convinced the news has nothing to do with them when, in actuality, many world events both indirectly and directly affect our daily lives. The violence in the Middle East could soon affect us and the people we care about, as ISIS recruits American teenagers. Many JBU students are considering going into ministry positions around the world, and this should require a thorough understanding of world events, especially in the area that they wish to influence.
As a school, we must combat this ignorance by inspiring a curiosity to learn so we can break out of our bubble of ignorance and positively impact the world around us as we are called to do. In order to do this, we must bring the news to the students. The goal then is to inspire students to want to learn more about world events and provide them with the resources to do so.
One solution would be to place a TV in Walker Student Center or the cafeteria dedicated solely to playing a fairly moderate news channel like CNN or BBC. This would send a message that our campus is dedicated to global vision rather than a self-focused education. Students could sit in the student center and watch the news while they studied. Another solution would be to create a Global Awareness course that focused on analyzing the implications and motivations of current events and would satisfy the Global Studies credit or be part of the core curriculum.
The issue of global awareness is too important to abandon. Let us equip our campus with the tools and sources to inform our students about world events and inspire a curiosity that leads to action so that our students can positively impact the world.