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Campus Life + In the World

Charting the course toward globalization

Council to define BU’s role on the world stage

As President Robert Brown begins to chart a course for the future of Boston University, he finds himself considering its role not just in the region or the nation, but in the world at large.

“Boston University has a long history of engagement in the community and the world,” Brown says. “It is appropriate for Boston University to consider the question of the degree of globalization that is appropriate for the our university — and indeed, what ‘globalization’ means in the context of Boston University — and set a course toward realizing the goals implied by this commitment.”

To accomplish this, Brown has created the President’s Council on Boston University and the Global Future, cochaired by Jay Halfond, dean of Metropolitan College, and Ronald Richardson, a CAS professor and director of the African-American Studies Program.

Their job, along with that of other members of the committee, will be to gather perspectives from among faculty, deans, and administrators and produce a “community-driven document,” according to Halfond, that will recommend how BU can best serve its local community globally and its global community locally.

“We all understand that as a major research university, our educational mission has now changed because of globalization,” Richardson says. “We’re no longer in the business of educating just a regional or national population.”

Indeed, the University’s worldwide perspective is evident through its history and can be drawn upon in answering the questions it faces today, Richardson says. “Keep in mind that we’re building on a tradition of internationalism that rests, in part, on the presence of important internationalists,” he says, citing Howard Thurman (Hon.’67), Sue Bailey Thurman (Hon.’92), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), whose global perspective continues to inspire the African-American Studies Program.

The inclusion of international students into University programs, the integration of real-world issues into the curriculum, research, and scholarship, and the development of semester-abroad and distance-learning programs are ways that the University reaches out to the global community.

“We come to this already as a leader in international education,” Halfond says. “How do we better integrate and take it forward?” But such a challenge is well-suited for BU, committee members say.

“The combination of idealism and the pragmatic is something that distinguishes this University,” Richardson says. Where to go from here, he says, will involve taking stock of current operations and ideals, and articulating that into a “viable mission that will advance our educational goals in the world as well as contribute to human progress.”

Halfond adds that it can be done only by engaging faculty and deans across the University. “This is not a solo effort on behalf of the council,” he says. The council is also charged with developing a way to evaluate programs in the context of the global goals it develops.

Paul Greene, assistant dean for international initiatives, is serving as staff to the council. “This is coming down to articulating what we are today and examining on the philosophical side what it means to be an international university,” he says. “How do we engage the world? What is our mission, not only for BU students here to have an international experience, but what do we owe to the rest of the world?”

The council is charged with producing a report for the president by fall 2006. Members include:

  • Andre de Quadros, Director, College of Fine Arts School of Music; Professor of Music, CFA
  • Urbain DeWinter, Associate Provost, International Education
  • Erik Goldstein, Professor of International Relations, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Gerald Keusch, Director, School of Public Health, Global Health Initiative; Assistant Provost; Professor, SPH
  • Jay Kim, Director, School of Management, Graduate Education; Associate Professor of Operations and Technology Management, SMG
  • Thomas Kunz, Director, Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology; Professor of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences 
  • Christopher Maurer, Professor and Chairman, Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Anita McGahan, Professor of Strategy and Policy, School of Management
  • James Pritchett, Director, African Studies Center; Associate Provost; Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences 
  • Dana Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Mission, School of Theology
  • M. Selim Unlu, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering