Fall 2008 Letter
Dear members of the Brandeis community,
In my first year leading the new Office of Global Affairs, I have been privileged to see more clearly the depth and breadth of Brandeis University's international engagements.
The Brandeis approach to global has and should be rooted to our culture. It should be tied to Brandeis core strengths in challenging assumptions, preparing future citizen-leaders, and putting the commitment to social justice into action. It should bring our university together for common goals, not divide schools and disciplines. We had a chance to see what a Brandeis global education means first-hand when over 100 alumni and 250 faculty and staff reunited last April for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wien International Scholarship Program. These alumni, now leaders in their home countries, told us what makes Brandeis different -- open dialogue about world affairs; and a belief in sustainable relationships that cross borders but are also grounded in places, fields, and cultures.
In the last year alone, our university has experienced an array of equally exciting global activities. Here is just a small sample. (You can view more highlights on the new Global Brandeis web portal.)
- Participation in study abroad, internships abroad, research and service projects has grown rapidly. 40% of Brandeis students completed a study abroad program, while new funding was created to allow students to pursue independent internships abroad. You can see what a few Brandeis students did this summer here, or get more information on this new funding through the Hiatt Career Center and the Dean's Office.
- Interdisciplinary programs such as International & Global Studies, Health: Science, Society, and Policy, and area/regional programs from Latin America to East Asia are thriving, and the number of courses incorporating international perspectives are growing each semester. We have also continued our multi-dimensional partnerships with people and institutions abroad.
- Our campus has become a microcosm of global affairs, with visitors and scholars giving lectures on everything from women's rights in Iran to a comparative look at 1960s social activism in Germany and the U.S. The new Global Affairs Roundtables begin this fall; we welcome new Madeleine Haas Russell Visiting Professor Smita Tewari Jassal to campus, and 389 new international students arrive from 85 countries. The relationship between the arts and global affairs continues to strengthen.
- Our graduate schools and centers & institutes continue to produce cutting-edge scholarship on the global stage and educate an increasingly wider range of future leaders. The Heller School hosted the second-largest U.S. contingent of Ford International Fellows, and a new dual degree in Sustainable International Development and Coexistence & Conflict was launched. The International Business School was one of the youngest business schools to receive AACSB International accreditation. The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life both celebrated their 10th anniversaries. And from the new Brandeis Spotlight Series to the first "Crown Center Paper," we've shared our strengths with the world at large.
Still, the pace of change in the world and in higher education will require a renewed effort, and will demand new approaches to these core activities of teaching, research, and service. While our previous relationships overseas have been driven by individual departments and people, a strategic approach might build these relationships systematically -- especially our relationships with international alumni and partner universities. And innovative programs might be developed that ground student experiences abroad in the context of their major and career goals.
The Office of Global Affairs has laid the groundwork for this type of approach with several initiatives. With the Provost's Office, we launched the Global Brandeis Fund -- seed grants that will help develop the type of overseas and cross-campus relationships highlighted above. Ten funded projects will begin producing projects this fall. In collaboration with faculty across schools, we hosted the first of a symposia series on "The Global: Implications for Research and the Curriculum," a two-day discussion that also featured Wien alumni Arjun Appadurai '70. The symposia series will engage our faculty, staff, and students in intellectual and exploratory dialogues on the shape and scope of our activities over the long term.
We also began a process of strengthening the Brandeis connections to key regions of the world, beginning with South Asia and India. This year, Brandeis will host a series of events that put India in focus, making it no better time to build a strategy that takes advantage of important alumni, parent, faculty, business and academic ties in that country.
A more in-depth report on Office of Global Affairs projects and planning can be found here.
Over this next year, our office hopes to be the catalyst for an approach that develops shared leadership for global, where no one unit feels that they are "doing it all." I hope, in doing that, you will think about how "global" or "international" affects your own work, and where new collaborations might be formed.
Associate Vice President for Global Affairs