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International Studies Schools Network (ISSN)

Since 2003, Asia Society has worked in partnership with school districts and charter authorities to create the International Studies School Network (ISSN), a national network of design-driven schools that are achieving success in attaining their core mission: to develop college and career ready, globally competent high school graduates. The network currently includes 34 schools in urban and rural communities across the United States. ISSN schools serve students in grades K-5, 6-12, or 9-12, 80 percent of all students served by Network schools are minorities, and 63 percent are from low-income families.

The ISSN responds to two intertwined imperatives facing American education. The first is the chronic problem of persistently poor academic performance among low income and minority secondary school students. The second is preparing students for work and civic roles in a globalized environment, where success increasingly requires the ability to compete, connect, and cooperate on an international scale.

According to the Committee for Economic Development, U.S. employers will “increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures” to work effectively with partners around the globe. The nature of work itself is changing, too. As more routine jobs can be automated through technology or outsourced to cheaper labor markets, the economic advantage will go to people who can analyze and solve problems, recognize patterns and similarities, and communicate and interact with other people, especially those who do not share the same culture. Globalization is about more than employment, though. Virtually every major issue people face--from global warming to terrorism--has an international dimension. And in U.S. schools and communities, world trends in migration and immigration have generated enormous cultural and linguistic diversity.