Around the Corner, Across the Globe

Developing Global Citizens through Civic Engagement




Spanish education, cultural competence, service-learning, engaged civic learning, learning abroad


Nursing educators wrestle with preparing the future nursing workforce to meet the needs of underserved, vulnerable populations in marginalized communities who suffer significant health disparities and social injustices. This article illustrates the integration of engaged civic learning (ECL) within a social justice framework that prepares baccalaureate nurses as global citizens to provide culturally congruent health care around the corner in local communities and learning abroad programs across the globe.

Multiple partnerships with local organizations were strengthened, with ECL integrated across the nursing curriculum and aligned with local needs of community housing, schools, churches, shelters, and fitness centers. The nursing faculty collaborated with language professors to develop a Spanish for Health Professions program to increase communication between students and the high percentage of Spanish-speaking populations served locally and globally.

A mixed-methods design evaluated program outcomes using descriptive data, student reflections, and the Global Perspective Inventory (GPI) to assess students’ experiences and global learning related to learning abroad during their college experience. Results from pre-surveys to post-survey results showed significant improvement (p < .05) in global learning in 16 of 35 question items. As students journey from entrance into nursing school until graduation, ECL develops them into engaged global citizens.

Author Biographies

Donna M Nickitas, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Nursing--Camden

Donna Nickitas PhD, RN, FAAN is Dean and Professor of Rutgers University, School of Nursing--Camden.  She is a noted health policy scholar, with a long history of advocacy for equitable health care, by driving public policy and promoting access to quality, patient-cared care. Her program of research centers on service-learning, engaged civic-learning, and advocacy. Since 2008, Dr. Nickitas has been editor of Nursing Economic$, a journal dedicated to advancing nursing leadership and innovation.

Nancy MH Pontes, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Nursing--Camden

Nancy Pontes PhD, FNP-BC, FNAP, FAAN is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, School of Nursing—Camden. Dr. Pontes is a family nurse practitioner who has worked globally with vulnerable populations. She leads engaged civic learning courses locally as well as Guatemala, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Recently, she received the Innovations in the Continuum of Care Award by the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey for improving health equity through Spanish for Health Professions.


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