History & Mission


Global Communities has been an integral part of the University of Maryland's rich tradition of fostering student interest in and engagement with global cultures and issues for over a decade. However, the history of the program stretches back even further. In 1991, a group of students received approval from the University to organize a new International House in Dorchester Hall. International House promoted friendship and understanding between international and domestic students at the University. Students themselves organized events that encouraged cross-cultural understanding. In 1992, International House hosted the first Cultural Explosion, a showcase of international students' talents and a tradition that continues to this day.

In 2001, International House formally joined the ranks of other living-learning programs on campus as a global competencies program and changed its name to Global Communities in 2002. It sought to help students develop strategies to live and work in a global society, acquire a broad range of intercultural communication skills, and build an awareness of cultural differences. In the spirit of International House, the program brought together under one roof international students, exchange students, transfer students, and UMD students from all disciplines and cultural backgrounds.

Global Communities changed significantly in 2011 with the launch of the university's Global Studies program and a campus commitment to deepening the academic component of living-learning programs. The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences partnered with the Provost to sponsor the program, and appointed a tenured faculty member as the new Director. The program expanded in size, staff and resources--demonstrating the commitment of the University and College. Global Communities became an invitation-only program for academically talented students that combined the existing program’s focus on developing intercultural sensitivity with new interdisciplinary courses that introduce scholarship on globalization and global issues.


The Global Communities Living-Learning Program is a key element of the University’s vision for education in the 21st century. We seek to provide an intellectually engaging and socially active community for students to learn about globalization and global issues, and develop skills and attitudes to empower them to take advantage of its opportunities and wrestle with its challenges.

We value diversity—cultural, intellectual, and ideological—and seek to provide a welcoming place where differences can be shared and openly discussed. Participants become part of a network of relationships beyond campus and outside the country.

Through coursework, cross-cultural/international events, relevant experiences, and a supportive community, we aim to help students develop the global perspective that will enable them to navigate an ever more interconnected and diverse world.


The Global Communities Living-Learning Program combines academic coursework, relevant programming and experiences, and participation in a residential community in pursuit of three overarching goals:

  • Understanding globalization and global issues through scholarship and experience

  • Developing the ability to work cooperatively with people of diverse backgrounds

  • Preparing for life and work in an interconnected world


Scholarship: We value an analytical approach to understanding the extent and limits of globalization and its impact through interdisciplinary scholarship.

Experience: We see real-life experience--on campus, in the surrounding community, and abroad--as a complement to scholarship in fully understanding the world we live in.

Self-Reflection: We encourage students to explore their own identities and cultures within a global context.

Community: We promote a welcoming, tolerant, diverse, and open-minded community of scholars.