Preparing Students to be Distinctly Global

Pitt undergraduate students now have a new credential to add to their portfolio—one that showcases their global competency. 

The Global Distinction credential is earned through a student’s completion of a curated blend of curricular and experiential learning activities. Once this is done, the words “Global Distinction” will appear on the student’s official academic transcript.

Global Distinction“We’re trying to help students be prepared to live lives of impact,” said Joseph McCarthy, vice provost for undergraduate studies, at a recent roll-out of the new Interdisciplinary Transcript Distinctions effort. “We want the system to help the students forge their own path.”

McCarthy said working toward the credential allows students to get formal recognition for joining a Living Learning Community in a Pitt residence hall; completing an internship or service learning project; or attending an ever-growing list of events, cultural programs, lectures and workshops.

Here’s how it works. Students can access MyPittGlobal through the portal or they can download the free Suitable app on their smartphones. They fill out and submit an enrollment form. Once accepted, they must do the following to earn the Global Distinction: choose from hundreds of courses to fulfill six class credits; participate in 24 global events and activities; choose two high-impact global experiences; and submit one reflection, in an essay or other format. The app tracks the student’s progress toward completion and offers options for completing additional international studies certificates. There are also incentives—T-shirts and other swag or an invitation to meet with a top-level visitor or Pitt expert. When all the work toward the credential is completed, the student receives a personalized digital catalog of all their global courses and experiences, perfect for prospective employers to view at a glance. And the Global Distinction will be noted on their transcript.

A big selling point for this credential is that it is “stackable.” So a student may also use some of the course work toward a Certificate in Asian Studies, for example, or as requirements for a major or minor. This is a newer trend on college campuses. 

“We are pushing the boundaries of what education means in a contemporary world,” said Vice Provost for Global Affairs Ariel Armony.

McCarthy says the Global Distinction credit can make a student stand out. Since many employers are seeking workers who have the ability to analyze and solve complex problems with people from different backgrounds or cultures, Pitt students with a Global Distinction can fit that bill. 

“They will develop transferrable skills expected of professionals in a highly interconnected and diverse work environment around the world,” he said.

Other Distinction credentials will be rolled out by the Office of the Provost in the near future, including an Honors Distinction and a Sustainability Distinction.