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Friday, September 7, 2018

Black Professor’s New Initiative Helps College Students Become Multilingual, World-Ready, and Globally Competitive

Cosmoportism and UniverCity: Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc.’s founder calls for ‘world-ready’ education, international competency, and ‘cosmocitizenship’ through world language skills.

Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma, founder of Polygots in Action For Diversity

Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma, founder of Polygots in Action For Diversity

Nationwide  — Hi! Nihao! Hola! Assalaamu alaykum! Bonjour! Buongiorno! Guten Tag! Jambo! Losako! In August 2018, Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma seized two opportunities to promote Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc. (PAD) and launch Cosmoportism, his philosophy of international education and competency at two global fora. The first opportunity was via a paper presentation at the XXIV World Congress of Philosophy (WCP) on the theme, “Learning to be Human,” Beijing, China, 13-20 August 2018. This was his fourth participation in “one of the largest philosophical events in the world” that takes place every five years.

China has been playing a major global leadership role, especially in the global trade area. This role is apparent, among other things, in the September 2018 China-Africa Summit. Academic communities – including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) – must be aware of China’s increasing global leadership role and act accordingly. Like any other ‘UniverCity,’ MSIs must optimize their commitment to international education and competency. To be effective, this commitment must also entail a meaningful presence and in the world affairs via partnerships with Chinese and other institutions of learning around the globe.

As the original Director of the Center for Global Studies at Morgan State University (MSU, 2000-2009), Dr. Gbotokuma traveled to Hubei University in Wuhan in July 2008. The purpose of that trip was to reassure that Chinese University that Morgan was committed to the success of the 1999 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our two institutions. Fortunately, two years later or in 2010 and thereafter, MSU has been able and willing to take concrete actions through academic partnerships with Chinese and many other institutions of learning worldwide. These partnerships are what “Cosmoportism and UniverCity Today,” Dr. Gbotokuma’s Beijing 2018 paper, is also about. Hopefully, MSIs will not be left behind in the internationalization agenda. Like any other UniverCity, they must do their very best, keep catching up, and educate equally globally literate and internationally competent global citizens for today’s globalized, flattening, warming, and unequal world, one that is characterized by the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (Schwab, 2017).

The second opportunity to share Cosmoportism at a global forum was the 2018 Association of World Citizens International (AWC) Forum. This event was organized in conjunction with the 67th United Nations DPI/NGO Conference on the theme, “WE THE PEOPLES: Together Finding Global Solutions for Global Problems,” New York, August 22 – 24, 2018. The two global gatherings were the most appropriate fora to plant the seeds of ‘Cosmoportism,’ in a concerted effort to solicit global partnerships and promote, through Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc.’s events (Global Literacy Lectures, Seminars, Festivals, etc.) and some other ways, a world-ready education and cosmocitizenship for all world citizens and college students within and beyond the Ivory Towers of academic circles. Dr. Gbotokuma is available for speaking engagements on Cosmoportism.

Cosmoportism in a nutshell – is a neologism that Dr. Gbotokuma has coined based on the Greek word kosmos, meaning ‘universe’ or world, and from the second part of the word ‘passport’. Cosmoportism is Dr. Gbotokuma’s philosophy of international education and competency. It is about the internationalization of the curriculum in today’s world, one that has become a spider’s web-like world or global village. That philosophy is based on his belief that world-ready education and international competency are the 21st-Century’s passport and global positioning system (GPS), so to speak, to comfortably navigate the global village during the fourth industrial revolution. They are also crucial to global competitiveness and partnerships. Cosmoportism is also based on Dr. Gbotokuma’s understanding of university as a universal city or UniverCity. To be an institution of higher learning and universal city, a new millennium and authentic UniverCity must be a forum for a ‘world-ready’ education. The internationalization of the curriculum must be consistent with the commitment to the international education as a rehearsal for cosmocitizenship and international competency. World language skills are important aspects of that competency.

“Learning to Be Human,” “Finding Global Solutions for Global Problems,” public diplomacy, the success of the Paris Climate Accord and the UN Sustainable Development Goals require, among other things, enhanced global communication ability. Consequently, multilingualism is critically important because, as the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein stated, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” According to Ethnologue, for example, proficiency in Chinese (Mandarin), English, and Spanish means the ability to communicate with approx. 2.7 billion people worldwide living in 172 countries. Proficiency in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese means the ability to communicate with approx. 1.8 billion people living in 197 countries. Therefore, nobody should be allowed to graduate from any UniverCity today without becoming globally literate, internationally competent, and fluent in at least one foreign language.

Thanks! Merci! Gracias! Grazie! Obrigado! Danke! Xie xie! Arigato! Gamsa hamnida! Asanti! Botondi!


About Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc. (PAD)
PAD is a non-profit educational and cultural organization. It was founded and incorporated in Baltimore, Maryland by Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma. Its mission is to promote positive diversity, interculturalism, international competency, and cosmocitizenship through multilingualism.

About PAD Founder & President
Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma is a polyglot and a Congolese-American who refers to himself as a ‘cosmocitizen.’ After twelve years of education and work in Europe, he is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and the founding President of Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc. (PAD). He is the former Director of the Center for Global Studies at Morgan State University. His “extraordinary commitment to global learning and international understanding” made him the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Sandye Jean McIntyre, II International Award 2008. He is also a recipient of A.I.M. AWARDS 2017: Afrimpact Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People (www.afrimpactmagazine.com/a-i-m-winners/).

His most recent publications A Polyglot Pocket Dictionary of Lingala, English, French, and Italian (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016 www.cambridgescholars.com/a-polyglot-pocket-dictionary-of-ling%C3%A1la-english-french-and-italian); Global Safari: Checking In and Checking Out in Pursuit of World Wisdoms, the American Dream, and Cosmocitizenship (CSP, 2015). www.cambridgescholars.com/global-safari

For more details about Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma, his publications, or his organization, visit his official web site at www.zekehinc.com


Dr. Zekeh S. Gbotokuma
443-885-1805 (office)
410-440-4753 (cell)