CAS takes on a new global initiative with the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.

Global Studies School Opens Its Doors

The Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies will take on the world's greatest challenges

By Jeremy Schwab

Dean Adil Najam

Dean Adil Najam says he will judge the Pardee School, which opened its doors in fall 2014, on how well it prepares students to seize opportunities on a global scale. Photo by Vernon Doucette/BU Photography

Boston University’s newest school has a bold mission: to create a new generation of global leaders.

The Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, housed in the College of Arts & Sciences, opened this fall at a time of disruptive change. Immigration is transforming age-old societies, privacy and freedom are clashing online, cell phones are empowering third-world entrepreneurs to develop new business models, and a growing global population is straining world food supplies. The Pardee School will support innovative education and research to help tackle the world’s most pressing political, social, and economic challenges.

To accomplish this mission, the new school will bring together nearly 200 faculty members from international relations, regional studies, religion, public health, and a large range of other disciplines. A collaborative environment will foster new interdisciplinary courses, undergraduate majors, graduate degree programs, and research projects. The school will also forge new partnerships with academic institutions around the world and bring additional opportunities to apply research and education overseas.

When Frederick Pardee (SMG’54, GSM’54, Hon.’06) endowed the school with a gift of $25 million—tied for the largest gift in BU history and taking his total giving to the University to $40 million—he did so because he valued the quality and depth of BU’s global programs. Previous gifts from Pardee, including the endowment of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, have also sought to catalyze collaborative solutions to the important problems facing humanity, from poverty to disease to human rights abuse.

Ambitious Scope

Some of the most exciting research going on at CAS today hints at the scope of the new school’s research ambitions: Assistant Professor of International Relations Cornel Ban is working to help policymakers better predict potential financial crises, Center for the Study of Europe Director Vivien Schmidt is examining the European Union as a model for transnational cooperation, and Professor of Economics Dilip Mookherjee is studying the causes of inequity in developing nations.

“We need to re-imagine what we mean by global studies, and indeed by ‘global,’” says founding Dean Adil Najam. “This is a school we wish to build to respond to the great challenges of our times: the challenges of peace and security we have inherited from the previous century, but also the new challenges of poverty and prosperity, of health and environment, of culture and identity, of technology and development, of governance and human rights. For a generation that already views itself as increasingly global in its own identity, this is a school that seeks to build not just global citizens, but global leaders.”

In Najam, the school has a dean who is both. A CAS professor of international relations and of earth and environment, he is an expert on climate change policy and South Asian politics. He was one of the lead authors of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and serves on the United Nations Committee on Development Policy. A former director of the Pardee Center, Najam was most recently the vice chancellor—which is equivalent to the president—of the Lahore University of Management Sciences in his native Pakistan.

Both Najam and Dean of Arts & Sciences Virginia Sapiro recognize the creation of the Pardee School as a pivotal moment in the history of global and international studies at CAS and BU.

“Once in a while, a university has the opportunity to take something it does well and transform it into something that makes it an international leader,” says Sapiro. “Mr. Pardee challenged us to create a new educational and research program aimed at advancing the progress of humanity, and we have accepted that challenge.”

The Start of a Journey

“For a generation that already views itself as increasingly global in its own identity, this is a school that seeks to build not just global citizens, but global leaders.” —Founding Dean Adil Najam

The Pardee School consists of two divisions: international studies and regional studies. The former draws on existing undergraduate and master’s degree programs in international relations and international affairs, focusing on the interplay of global forces in areas such as governance and economic development. Regional studies brings together six existing area studies programs: African, Asian, European, Latin American, Middle East & North Africa, and Muslim Societies & Civilizations. These programs offer a rich blend of majors and minors—often with a deep linguistic requirement—to connect the culture, geography, and history of a particular region with human behavior, public policy, and relations with other parts of the world.

The Pardee Center, meanwhile, will continue to pursue its mission—“conducting interdisciplinary, policy-relevant, and future-oriented research”—while working closely with the Pardee School to promote the exploration of critical global issues.

Najam notes that while the foundations have been laid, the school can grow in directions determined by student and faculty interests and the vision of financial supporters. “Simply creating the school is not the destination,” he says. “It is the doorway to an edifice that still has to be built. There is no one better than our alumni to understand and help build it, because our alumni are more and more global.”

Najam believes that many students coming to BU—and not just the 7,000 international students who attend from some 130 countries—also see problems and solutions through a global context. He will judge the school’s success on how well it prepares undergraduate and graduate students to seize opportunities on a global scale.

“Ultimately, what will make the Pardee School distinct is how it conceptualizes and builds its programs around the great global challenges of our times,” he says. “If we can build an institution that prepares our students to engage these challenges and embrace global opportunities, then we have succeeded.”