Normally I would be averse to going public with the internal affairs of the Flat Earth Society. But this is not the time for silence or misguided diplomacy. The failure of our leadership to throw the Society's full support behind the Academic Bill of Rights is little short of scandalous.
It is time to put an end to the constant stream of indoctrination in America's college classrooms on the part of "scholars" only too willing to serve the interests of the globe-manufacturing lobby. Students should be given a chance to use their own rationality and powers of observation. Remember, the so-called "theory" of spherical-earthism is just that -- a theory. (I mean, come on! It's just a matter of common sense. The world can't be round. The people in Australia would fall off.)
At the same time, the Society has nearly liquidated its treasury in placing a bulk order for a new book by Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist, called The World is Flat. The cover is, to be sure, very impressive. It portrays two ships and a small boat sailing dangerously close to the edge of the earth. However, I am now reading the book, and am sorry to report it is not nearly as good as we all had hoped.
Friedman argues that the rapid spread of high-speed digital communication has created conditions in which skilled labor in now-impoverished countries can be integrated into a new economic order that will end extreme disparities in wealth and development. The world will be less uneven, and in that sense more "flat."
It's a book about globalization, in other words. Which makes the title (not to mention the artwork, which has given me nightmares) very sneaky indeed.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure that the Flat Earth Society is still active. (It has a Web page, though that doesn't mean much.) But a recent reading of Martin Gardner's classic Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science is a reminder that it was in 1905 that the Rev. Wilbur Glenn Voliva became General Overseer of Zion, Illinois -- a town in which church and state were, at the time, pretty much identical. Voliva ministered to the Christ Community Church and enforced strict blue laws, while also carrying on the scientific research necessary to prove that (as Gardner puts it) "the earth is shaped like a flapjack, with the North Pole at the center and the South Pole distributed around the circumference."
He offered a reward of $5,000 to anyone who could prove otherwise, and never had to part with what any of his money. It is good to know that, 100 years later, Voliva's scholarly efforts may yet win a hearing in the American academic life -- thanks to the tireless efforts of David Horowitz.
As for Thomas Friedman .... well, his version of flat-earth doctrine is bound to have an impact on academe, even if no professor ever opens his latest volume. The people flying in business class read Friedman's books -- and that includes plenty of university administrators, those acting CEOs of the knowledge economy.
Nor will it hurt that The World is Flat is, in effect, one long plea to corporations, government officials, and any other policy-makers who might be reading to invest in higher education as the nation's top priority for the future. In a world where more and more jobs can be done more cheaply, in new places, people need constantly to update, refine, or change entirely their toolkit of knowledge and skills.
Friedman has a knack for harvesting the information, opinions, and gut instincts of some of the most powerful people in the world. He boils it all down into some catchy slogans, and voila! You've got a bouillon cube of the conventional wisdom for the next two or three years.
He is bullish on the long-term benefits of the global market -- with that congenital optimism tempered (occasionally, and just a little) by the experience of having served as a Middle East correspondent. And he shows a faith in the power of corporations to become good global citizens that is either inspiring or willfully obtuse -- depending on whether or not you are annoyed by the fact that The World is Flat contains exactly zero interviews with labor leaders.
It is his instinct towards globalization boosterism that gives the edge, so to speak, to Friedman's thesis on what he calls "flatism." In short, his argument is that the technological infrastructure now exists to make it economically rational for more and more kinds of business to be conducted in a way that is dispersed over networks that span the entire world. Outsourcing no longer means shifting manufacturing offshore -- or even having the less-skilled kinds of service-sector jobs (data keypunching, for example) done in another country.
Work requiring more sophisticated cognitive skills -- bookkeeping, computer programming, or the analysis of medical test results, for example -- can be done in India or China at much less expense. Jobs thus become more mobile than the people who do them.
Friedman's main point is that this is not a trend that will take shape at some point in the future. It is happening right now; the trend will not reverse. And the American political parties and the cable news programs are not telling the public what is happening. They are, as Friedman puts it, "actively working to make people stupid."
Instead, "companies should be encouraged, with government subsidies or tax incentives, to offer as wide an array as possible of in-house learning opportunities," thereby "widening the skill base of their own workforce and fulfilling a moral obligation to workers whose jobs are outsourced to see to it that they leave more employable than they came."
Friedman also favors "an immigration policy that gives a five-year work visa to any foreign student who completes a Ph.D. at an accredited American university in any subject. I don't care if it's Greek mythology or mathematics. If we cream off the first-round intellectual draft choices from around the world, it will always end up a net plus for America."
I n a way, Friedman has come to his own version of some of the ideas that Manuel Castells developed some years ago in the three large volumes of The Information Age. There, the sociologist worked out an account of how the "space of flows" between parts of a dispersed economic network would transform the "space of places" (that is, the real-world geography) in which people dwell.
As with Friedman's notion of "flatism," the increased productivity and ceaseless disruption of network society were basic to the picture that Castells drew. But he also stressed something that Friedman -- with his abiding cheerfulness -- tends to downplay: Skills, knowledge, and wealth accumulate at the dispersed nodes of an economic network, but some parts of the world fall outside the network more or less entirely.
Most of Africa, for example. Last year, a study found that 96 percent of the continent's population had no access to telecommunications of any kind. Given the unavailability of drinking water and medical supplies, that is probably the least of anyone's worries. But even with the recent increase in wireless access in Africa -- thereby potentially getting around the scarcity and unreliability of more traditional landline telecommunication -- it is unlikely that part of the world will be "flattening" anytime soon. (Some might see the glass as 96 percent empty, but I suppose someone encouraged by Friedman's book would consider it 4 percent full.)
Meanwhile, it is difficult to feel much optimism about Friedman's proposal for beefing up the resources for increasing the educational opportunities of the American workforce. At least for now, the public discourse on higher education is caught in a particularly narrow and regressive set of undercurrents.
It's possible to joke about how the Rev. Voliva's scholarship in flat-earth studies might finally start getting their due. But matters are serious when scientists are forced to resort to references to Lysenkoism to describe the government's science policy. And higher education itself is the focus of a barrage of ideologues who seem to have confused The Authoritarian Personality with a manual for self-improvement.
It would be good to think that the national agenda could change -- that the notion of "flatism," whatever its limitations, might help spur increased public commitment to continuing education. But then, as Friedman also says, certain politicians and media outlets are "actively working to make people stupid." With that part, at least, he's being realistic.
Scot McLemee writes Intellectual Affairs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
As major participants and drivers in the process of globalization, Americans have a remarkable ambivalence about the rest of the world. We want to be engaged, loved, respected -- and obeyed. We seek collaboration, but on our terms. We embrace the international difference that most closely resembles ourselves: English speaking, Western European, or Latin American. We speak glowingly of international travel and study abroad, but most of us seek out places that approximate our home environment.
Our colleges and universities encourage study abroad, develop internationalization initiatives, and welcome international students, but American students and faculty flee from the serious study of languages other than English. We teach the literature of our international trading partners in translation because so few of our students can read anything of substance in someone else’s language. And, as we usually do in American academic circles, we worry about all this a lot.
The Institute for International Education publishes statistics and reports through its Open Doors series that give us a picture of how we engage our global colleagues. The good news is that more and more students study and travel abroad than ever before, most students understand that their future requires an engagement with the greater world outside our borders, and just about every college and university has some kind of international commitment in its curriculum.
The bad news is that few students take foreign languages and few institutions require them to do so. Only literature, history, and other area-studies specialists show any interest in the deep understanding made possible through immersion in language, and the numbers of students in these majors does not appear to be rising. Although everyone recognizes that our national security and prosperity demand experts with full proficiency and cultural literacy in a wide range of thinly taught languages, we find neither the national funding nor the student interest in developing these skills.
Often, our leaders in business and industry tell us how important international expertise has become, but they frequently hire well educated native speakers to lead their overseas operations, and offer little or no premium to American managers who have particular language skills. Our students, observing the career paths of highly successful people, learn quickly that while the business world values international travel and living experience, it sees only modest benefit from in-depth understanding of a specific language or culture.
Indeed, specialists in language and culture often fear relegation to mid-level corporate niches while their generalist colleagues move around the company in different jobs in different places, advancing quickly up the corporate ladder. Even our State Department, charged with the obligation of keeping the country tuned to our global relationships, rotates Foreign Service officers from post to post, producing globally aware individuals with great breadth and minimal cultural and linguistic depth.
NAFSA, an organization of international student and study abroad advisers, published a Report of the Strategic Task Force on Education Abroad. As I read it, I am not sure what to make of it. It calls for us to increase study abroad opportunities and asserts that language proficiency matters, but it recognizes that most students want to go where people speak English or where the U.S. already has significant cultural and historical familiarity (Europe and Latin America).
It calls for more engagement but notes that most students want to participate in semester programs rather than yearlong programs. It celebrates a dramatic increase in the number of students seeking study abroad opportunities but finds the numbers too small to meet the need.
Here, as in other reports of similar nature on different topics, we have a worthy objective presented by people who have the right idea and a clear sense of what we should do. At the same time, we have universities and colleges that cannot drive their students to study a language to any degree of proficiency, who cannot enforce any form of required international curriculum, and who squirm uncomfortably as they argue that a semester of study abroad will produce globally competitive leaders.
Perhaps our students and their employers are telling us something we do not want to hear. Maybe language and culture are much less important for global success than the subject competence that adds value to a business or a product. Maybe they know that only those who make language and culture their major area of study can approximate the abilities and skills of an ordinary educated native speaker.
Maybe they recognize that the years of study needed to acquire foreign language fluency in America will yield much less future income than similar effort invested in accounting, finance, physics, computer science or legal studies.
It is not what we want to hear, we internationalists, we specialists in language and area studies, we culture vultures who live and breathe the dramatic variety of the world’s people. It is not what we want to hear, but when our students’ behavior overwhelmingly fails to match our beliefs, we probably should listen more carefully.
To: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Re: University Presidents Summit on International Education
A week or so ago, at the University Presidents Summit on International Education, you honored us with an event delivered with class and style uncommon in executive branch engagements with university presidents and chancellors. As I’m sure you noticed, we enjoyed the attention, respected the intent, and appreciated your personal and effective participation, as well as your mobilization of key actors including the President and First Lady. As we all returned to our campuses to reflect on the messages, themes, and programs discussed, and you return to the critical business of government, a reality check on our conversation seems in order.
International education in all its many forms has been a major agenda item in American higher education forever, and over the most recent 30 years or so, colleges and universities have conducted a constant conversation about internationalizing the curriculum and improving the campuses’ ability to bring the world home.
This agenda, which reappeared in many of the comments by the university and college presidents in attendance, is really not a federal obligation. The task of internationalizing or globalizing our campuses belongs to the institutions. If internationalizing is a major campus concern, like teaching chemistry, the campus will find a way to do it because it will be central to the campus’s academic and student programs. If a campus requires federal money to support a major change to its curriculum or to rethink its purposes, the campus is not likely to be effective anyway. I would recommend that you thank us for such insights, and return to the main purpose of the summit: language skills.
Success in this proposed joint venture requires that both the federal government and the universities speak clearly and precisely about what you want and what we can do.
We in the universities and colleges have much experience in taking tightly focused government programs and diffusing their intent to flow money into activities more central to our interests. If you fund language and area studies, we will leverage the language effort to get more resources for area studies, literature studies and culture studies. These are good things, but they do not address the national need you articulated at the summit, learning language.
Further, we in the colleges and universities are expert at avoiding effective performance measurement. If the nation needs college educated graduates functionally literate in a number of less commonly taught languages, the only way to get this result is to fund programs that will test the graduates. If you want us to graduate students with a command of spoken and written Arabic, Urdu or Mandarin, you need to fund a program that delivers money to institutions that demonstrate the functional literacy of its graduates in these languages through standardized tests. Otherwise, we will train people for you who can read some things in some languages, have traveled and lived in the countries where some of these languages are spoken, but who may or may not have functional usable literacy.
We are good at redefining objectives. If the federal government wants to help create college graduates who have high quality skills related to living and working within other languages, it must fund specific programs in specific countries focused on the acquisition of testable specific language skills. If we go to India, and live primarily with English speaking communities, we will return with cultural awareness and many good stories to tell about our experiences, but we will not have acquired functional competency in a foreign language or culture. You must be specific about what you want, specific about how you will know when you get it, and specific about the test you will apply to validate the learning accomplished. This is difficult in cultural studies, but it is not at all hard in language acquisition.
If we struggle with clarity and effectiveness in our international objectives and programs, our counterparts in the federal government -- especially the State Department, the Defense Department, and some of the intelligence agencies -- send conflicting messages about the importance of language and area studies expertise. While we hear that in-depth knowledge of countries and languages is essential to the defense and prosperity of the nation, we also know that the State Department and the Defense establishment tend to rotate their employees from place to place, country to country, language region to language region, devaluing in the process true expertise in either language or culture.
We also know that the career track to high level assignments in both State and Defense place a premium on generalist experience and knowledge and little emphasis on high levels of expertise in any particular language or culture. We are also unsure whether language competency is of any particular advantage for positions within the Department of Education.
You could do some things to improve the incentives for students to think of language related skills as major assets for careers in State, Education or Defense. For example, you might institute a language competency premium for mid to high level employees in the executive branch, a bonus addition to salary for those capable of maintaining a high level of language competency throughout their careers (tested on a periodic basis). You might consider longer term assignments overseas or in region specific offices or agencies as premium assignments with enhancements to salary or other benefits that would demonstrate that the enthusiasm for functional language skills is highly valued, much in the same way combat duty and other difficult assignments carry a premium.
These comments speak to the task of making the skills associated with uncommonly taught languages valued in the real world that our students watch with clear-eyed intensity. They know that in the great American Midwest, for example, the daily need to know someone else’s language is minimal. We can travel for days without needing to speak anything but English. We see corporations hire language experts and culture brokers from among the nationals of countries where they trade and work, not from among the language fluent American college graduates.
Students see that only a few individuals in high government positions speak another language fluently, and almost none speak uncommonly taught languages. They see no premium for acquiring and maintaining a competency in difficulty to learn languages, and so they leave the language skills to native speakers, language and literature experts, and some area studies specialists.
To achieve your goals, you will need to help us focus on testable language skills, incentives for careers that use functional language skills, and support for overseas experiences that produce high levels of language performance.
We had a wonderful time at your summit, and the two of you are to be congratulated for what you are doing to improve education in the K-12 arena, facilitate the visa process, and address the constant challenge of encouraging the exchange of scholars without compromising national security. We are grateful for the respect reflected in the quality of our treatment during the Summit, and we are all eager to work with you.
“Brain drain” -- the migration of highly trained people from developing countries to wealthy ones -- has for decades depleted the most precious resource of the world’s poorest countries, their skilled and educated citizens. Yet this outflow of talent is not inevitable. Ending brain drain ultimately requires new development models that redress fundamental inequalities within developing countries and between the world’s poorest and richest nations. But as a first step, colleges and universities that recruit foreign talent -- and the foundations and agencies that support them -- can adopt new policies to help stem pervasive brain drain.
First, colleges and universities can direct educational opportunities to academically qualified, community-oriented leaders who would otherwise have limited opportunities for advanced study. For these leaders, the purpose of further study is to acquire the skills and knowledge to improve conditions in their home countries. Second, strong partnerships and collaboration can enhance resource sharing between universities and research institutions in rich countries and their counterparts in the developing world. This enables skilled graduates to find work at home while participating in international networks. And third, educators can take advantage of advances in information and communications technology to increase the impact and sustainability of such programs, since they are no longer limited by a zero-sum “brain-drain” vs. “brain gain” framework but are free to envision strategies that achieve win-win “brain circulation”.
Two individuals who recently completed studies under the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program are showing that talented graduates who studied abroad can have an immediate impact on their home countries. Margareta Tri Wahyuningsih, from Indonesia, completed a master’s degree in gender and women’s studies at the University of Bradford, in Britain, in 2004 and returned to West Kalimantan, a province beset by traditional conflict and sporadic ethnic cleansing. In her current work as a field officer for an international NGO called Search for Common Ground in Indonesia, Margareta is training women to become mediators for peace.
Samuel Duo, a Liberian refugee who had fled to Ghana, completed a master’s degree in agriculture at Pennsylvania State University in 2005. Immediately after graduation, Samuel returned home to open a new office for the Social Enterprise Development Foundation of West Africa in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, to help rebuild his war-torn country.
Despite dedicated leaders like Margareta and Samuel, brain drain continues to weaken many developing economies. A comprehensive World Bank report published in October concluded that brain drain increased significantly over the past two to three decades. The stock of educated immigrants in rich countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rose by about 800,000 annually between 1990 and 2000. This exodus is a major loss for sending countries, especially the smallest and poorest in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean -- some of which have lost more than 50 percent of their educated citizens. Four out of five Jamaican doctors, for example, practice elsewhere, while sub-Saharan Africa has lost 20,000 professionals each year since 1990. More African scientists and engineers work in the United States than on their home continent.
When educated people emigrate, they leave with skills and experience crucial to solving their countries’ critical problems. The migration of doctors leaves poor countries (and eventually other global population centers) subject to the ravages of highly communicable diseases. Public services are deprived of trained personnel, and countries lose revenue from some of their highest-earning taxpayers. Sending countries also lose educated citizens who otherwise might play key roles in developing responsive governments and organizing civil society, often resulting in political instability and regional conflict.
While some researchers have called attention to the net positive effects of “brain drain,” such as remittances sent home and possibilities for increased trade and foreign assistance, the negative effects are much stronger. Brain drain leads to a downward spiral of impoverishment and underdevelopment that drives educated people to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
Universities that recruit foreign students must adopt new strategies to reverse brain drain while maintaining a healthy circulation of global skills and knowledge. One promising approach is to direct international scholarships to deserving individuals for whom the support represents a unique opportunity to improve conditions in their home countries. Typically, prestigious scholarships are awarded to the “best and the brightest” students in poor countries. While academically capable, these students are usually from elite families that have access to high-cost private secondary schools and regard an international degree as an opportunity for individual advancement or a ticket to employment abroad.
Top colleges in the United States learned some time ago that admitting classes of American students from elite private schools did not truly identify the best talent, but while these institutions have become much more adept at identifying diverse applicants among Americans, they don’t do so for students from other countries. Yet more than half of all university students are now in the developing world, and there is a huge, nearly untapped pool of talented people from social groups that are just beginning to acquire postsecondary education.
In developing countries, these first-generation university students are usually from poor backgrounds. They are women who succeed in overcoming cultural barriers against female advancement, or men and women from remote rural areas, ethnic and religious minorities, or people with physical disabilities. Having overcome poverty and discrimination to obtain their education, these students are highly motivated to return to their home countries after studying or working abroad. Their chief aspiration is to apply their newly-acquired knowledge to improve the very conditions against which they themselves had to struggle. And because they are deeply rooted in their communities of origin, their choice to live and work at home is a natural one. Since 2001, the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program has selected more than 2,000 fellows from nearly 100,000 applicants with this background and profile from Russia and 21 developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Among more than 550 alumni, 75 percent are now living and working in their home countries, while almost all of the remaining alumni are finishing doctoral degrees or pursuing additional advanced training under other sponsorship.
Another effective way to redress the fundamental inequalities that lead to brain drain is to strengthen institutional partnerships, collaborative research and teaching, and other mutually beneficial exchanges between universities and research institutions in the United States (and other rich countries) and their counterparts in developing countries. Foundations, along with governments, universities, and the private sector, can support such initiatives.
One innovative example is Washington University in St. Louis’s “International Scholars Academy,” a program that promotes international cooperation among leading research universities with an initial focus on 15 universities in Asia. Another is the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, a $350 million initiative sponsored by six of the largest U.S. foundations to strengthen higher education in seven African countries. Such collaborations help to build local institutions while fostering international connections, improving the capacity of developing countries to absorb their most talented graduates but also allowing them to benefit from global networks.
Advances in information and communications technology and improved mobility have helped to shape a new global context for the world’s educated people. For those from poor developing countries, the choice is no longer as stark between emigration to a rich country or a life of intellectual isolation. For example, online access to scientific journals is improving rapidly, projects to digitize the world’s great libraries are well under way, and Internet cafes offer inexpensive access to online resources. In Africa, foreign donors, private companies and governments are investing heavily in satellite-based broadband capacity and new cell phone technology, opening Internet access and leapfrogging antiquated and dysfunctional telephone landlines.
Further, the reduced cost of travel allows professionals to maintain their international ties by spending short periods abroad. Expatriates, for their part, are being invited by their governments and international agencies to work for limited periods of time in their home countries. Virtual travel can also connect professional communities abroad with local colleagues. This is the basis for literally dozens of initiatives like the Digital Diaspora Network Africa. Meanwhile, globalization has created a demand for skilled labor in regional development poles such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, as well as in rich western countries. The best brains can now circulate far more freely than even a decade ago.
Taking advantage of this new reality, colleges and universities can help to right the imbalance of intellectual and economic resources that lies at the heart of the brain drain dilemma.
The analysis of citations -- examining what scholars and scientists publish for the purpose of assessing their productivity, impact, or prestige -- has become a cottage industry in higher education. And it is an endeavor that needs more scrutiny and skepticism. This approach has been taken to extremes both for the assessment of individuals and of the productivity and influence of entire universities or even academic systems. Pioneered in the 1950s in the United States, bibliometrics was invented as a tool for tracing research ideas, the progress of science, and the impact of scientific work. Developed for the hard sciences, it was expanded to the social sciences and humanities.
Citation analysis, relying mostly on the databases of the Institute for Scientific Information, is used worldwide. Increasingly sophisticated bibliometric methodologies permit ever more fine-grained analysis of the articles included in the ISI corpus of publications. The basic idea of bibliometrics is to examine the impact of scientific and scholarly work, not to measure quality. The somewhat questionable assumption is that if an article is widely cited, it has an impact, and also is of high quality. Quantity of publications is not the main criterion. A researcher may have one widely cited article and be considered influential, while another scholar with many uncited works is seen as less useful.
Bibliometrics plays a role in the sociology of science, revealing how research ideas are communicated, and how scientific discovery takes place. It can help to analyze how some ideas become accepted and others discarded. It can point to the most widely cited ideas and individuals, but the correlation between quality and citations is less clear.
The bibliometric system was invented to serve American science and scholarship. Although the citation system is now used by an international audience, it remains largely American in focus and orientation. It is exclusively in English -- due in part to the predominance of scientific journals in English and in part because American scholars communicate exclusively in English. Researchers have noted that Americans largely cite the work of other Americans in U.S.-based journals, while scholars in other parts of the world are more international in their research perspectives. American insularity further distorts the citation system in terms of both language and nationality.
The American orientation is not surprising. The United States dominates the world’s R&D budget -- around half of the world’s R&D funds are still spent in the United States, although other countries are catching up, and a large percentage of the world’s research universities are located in the United States. In the 2005 Times Higher Education Supplement ranking, 31 of the world’s top 100 (research-focused) universities were located in the United States. A large proportion of internationally circulated scientific journals are edited in the United States, because of the size and strength of the American academic market, the predominance of English, and the overall productivity of the academic system. This high U.S. profile enhances the academic and methodological norms of American academe in most scientific fields. While the hard sciences are probably less prone to an American orientation and are by their nature less insular, the social sciences and some other fields often demand that authors conform to the largely American methodological norms and orientations of journals in those fields.
The journals included in the databases used for citation analysis are a tiny subset of the total number of scientific journals worldwide. They are, for the most part, the mainstream English-medium journals in the disciplines. The ISI was established to examine the sciences, and it is not surprising that the hard sciences are overrepresented and the social sciences and humanities less prominent. Further, scientists tend to cite more material, thus boosting the numbers of citations of scientific articles and presumably their impact.
The sciences produce some 350,000 new, cited references weekly, while the social sciences generate 50,000 and the humanities 15,000. This means that universities with strength in the hard sciences are deemed more influential and are seen to have a greater impact -- as are individuals who work in these fields. The biomedical fields are especially overrepresented because of the numbers of citations that they generate. All of this means that individuals and institutions in developing countries, where there is less strength in the hard sciences and less ability to build expensive laboratories and other facilities, are at a significant disadvantage.
It is important to remember that the citation system was invented mainly to understand how scientific discoveries and innovations are communicated and how research functions. It was not, initially, seen as a tool for the evaluation of individual scientists or entire universities or academic systems. The citation system is useful for tracking how scientific ideas in certain disciplines are circulated among researchers at top universities in the industrialized countries, as well as how ideas and individual scientists use and communicate research findings.
A system invented for quite limited functions is used to fulfill purposes for which it was not intended. Hiring authorities, promotion committees, and salary-review officials use citations as a central part of the evaluation process. This approach overemphasizes the work of scientists -- those with access to publishing in the key journals and those with the resources to do cutting-edge research in an increasingly expensive academic environment. Another problem is the overemphasis of academics in the hard sciences rather than those in the social sciences and, especially, the humanities. Academics in many countries are urged, or even forced, to publish their work in journals that are part of a citation system -- the major English-language journals published in the United States and a few other countries. This forces them into the norms and paradigms of these journals and may well keep them from conducting research and analysis of topics directly relevant to their own countries.
Citation analysis, along with other measures, is used prominently to assess the quality of departments and universities around the world and is also employed to rank institutions and systems. This practice, too, creates significant distortions. Again, the developing countries and small industrialized nations that do not use English as the language of higher education are at a disadvantage. Universities strong in the sciences have an advantage in the rankings, as are those where faculty members publish in journals within the citation systems.
The misuse of citation analysis distorts the original reasons for creating bibliometric systems. Inappropriately stretching bibliometrics is grossly unfair to those being evaluated and ranked. The “have-nots” in the world scientific system are put at a major disadvantage. Creative research in universities around the world is downplayed because of the control of the narrow paradigms of the citation analysis system. This system overemphasizes work written in English. The hard sciences are given too much attention, and the system is particularly hard on the humanities. Scholarship that might be published in “nonacademic” outlets, including books and popular journals, is ignored. Evaluators and rankers need go back to the drawing boards to think about a reliable system that can accurately measure the scientific and scholarly work of individuals and institutions. The unwieldy and inappropriate use of citation analysis and bibliometrics for evaluation and ranking does not serve higher education well -- and it entrenches existing inequalities.
Philip G. Altbach
Philip G. Altbach is director of the Center for International Higher Education, at Boston College.
Recently I have been gathering an editorial board for a new online journal. My intention was for the journal to be international in scope, but the majority of the early board members happened to be from the United States, which is no surprise, given its preponderance of researchers. It wasn’t too long before the board started to become more international in its representation and I began to feel more confident that the journal would be able to reflect other regions and their particular voices. Many journal editors recruit internationally, correctly assuming diversity to be important. But then I began to wonder what particular voice could I offer if some editorial manager sought to recruit me? How much does my “region” actually inform my research, my identity?
I was born, raised and educated in England, but never really felt English. Part of this was a political response: Being brought up in a militantly left-wing and anti-monarchist household, and also being one of “Thatcher’s children” instilled in me a certain disdain for all things British. But aside from this it never really occurred to me to include “national identity” as a variable of my “personal identity.” After university, like many lucky 20somethings, I spent a year or so backpacking, missing nothing of England and feeling increasingly “international.” After a couple more years in England I married someone from New Zealand, where I am engaged in Ph.D. research.
So, to the hypothetical recruiting editorial manager looking for a representative voice from the Pacific, will you find one in me? Probably not. Despite having spent several years in New Zealand I have no special feel for the place: there is nothing in my research about masculinity and spirituality that is explicitly informed by my residence in New Zealand. But nor could I be a representative voice for England, which arguably shaped me, having not been there for some time and being remarkably disengaged from English current affairs. My voice is representative of no particular place, yet perhaps also of multiple places: almost stateless, I am something of a gypsy.
Let me take you down a rather romantic path, for I am indeed a gypsy boy: My maternal grandmother was the last of a bona fide line of gypsies. She spent her girlhood in a caravan, the ornately decorated kind you imagine when picturing gypsies. She felt the stigma society placed on gypsies and opted to leave the road for the stability of a life in a brick house. In my boyhood (as is still the case) that stigma was very much alive and I have vivid memories of the hostility gypsies would receive when they would occasionally inhabit a local patch of rough land, or even the school playing field during the summer holidays. I never found out about my gypsy lineage until my late teens: My mother opted to keep it from me, to save me the abuse of being taunted at school, of being labeled a thieving gyppo or pikey. So perhaps I have some genetic memory of being stateless, of defining identity by action rather than place, or at least of the instability and fluidity of place.
Some attention, although not enough, has been given to notions of identity among migrants, refugees and other people who, because of economics, war or some other trauma are no longer resident in their homeland. These peoples’ statelessness, understandably, is a wound to be healed, a wrong to be righted. But my statelessness is not located at the oppressed end of a power dynamic: I am not disadvantaged by my geographical movement, nor troubled by an identity that some might consider to be in limbo. Yet my identity is a shifting category, which keeps me on the margin: I don’t really fit in giving a paper at a local conference focusing on Pacifica, yet in an overseas context I appear “from” the Pacific region.
There is one place where I feel I do belong, like I have a “right” to pass the comment, ”look, I’ve been here a long time and think it’s fair to say....” That place is the Internet. Around 95 percent of my research is done online; I’ve only met 2 of the 40 people involved in the journal I’m organizing. I know the Internet, enough to pass inconspicuously as a local -- the online equivalent of using a regional colloquialism or drinking the right kind of beer from the right kind of glass. Rather than a communication device, I consider the Internet a place, one in which you can be “local” in Jamaica, Finland or the Philippines.
But so what? What does this actually mean? The answer is twofold. First, we need to start thinking more of the Internet as a place rather than a tool. It is a diverse place of many languages and cultures, but a place nonetheless. In our approach to scholarship we should consider the Internet a region like South-East Asia or Latin America and expect to hear some voices articulating positions that are comparably unique. These voices are unique not simply by using email and browsing, but because the Internet is their primary place of work, and their research is informed by its topography, politics, limitations, and potential.
Secondly, somewhat paradoxically, in the physical world we should resist putting too much emphasis on location as a primary defining category. I’m not for a moment suggesting different locations and particular voices are unimportant or are in some way to be transcended: Difference is, after all, identity. Rather, to give some pause for thought about what and where people are actually representative of. If we assume too much about the particularity and voice of any given place, especially if that place is outside North America or Europe, there is a danger of limiting that voice to a position that is similar to not hearing it at all. So I ask that next time you scan the editorial board of a journal, you resist the temptation to conclude too much from the members’ locations, and to see if you can identify anyone indigenous to the Internet.
For decades foreign scholars have visited the United States to meet with their counterparts in this country, to present a paper at an academic conference, or to take up an appointment at an American college or university. These visits have been immeasurably beneficial to this country in advancing knowledge in all academic fields and in strengthening ties with other nations.
Under the current administration these visits have continued, but as evidenced by a series of visa decisions over the past three years, the administration’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas has been alarmingly weak.
In August 2004, the administration revoked a visa that had earlier been issued to Professor Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and a renowned scholar of the Muslim world, to begin an appointment as a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame. Ramadan had previously been able to travel freely to the United States, and currently he has an appointment at the University of Oxford and is serving as an advisor on anti-terrorism policies to the British government.
In responding to a lawsuit filed by the American Association of University Professors and other organizations in behalf of Ramadan, government lawyers said that Ramadan had not been denied entry because of his views about terrorism, contrary to what the government initially stated, but refused to specify why or to act on the visa. And then, in response to a federal court’s ruling that was skeptical that a sound legal basis exists for the administration’s continuing to deny entry to Ramadan, the government told Ramadan that it declined to renew his visa application because he had donated some $900 to two Palestinian relief organizations that in turn gave money to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Ramadan had previously disclosed these donations to U.S. consular officials.
In September 2004, the Department of State denied visas to 65 Cuban scholars one week before they were to participate in a conference sponsored by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) to be held in Las Vegas. The blanket visa denials were unprecedented in their scope; a State Department spokesperson said that the action was “consistent with the overall tightening of our policy” toward Cuba. The department took the same action in March 2006 against 55 Cuban scholars who were to have attended a LASA conference in Puerto Rico.
In June 2005, Professor Waskar Ari, a citizen of Bolivia, learned that he was not to be issued a visa and therefore could not begin his faculty appointment at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln that fall. Like Ramadan, Ari had been a frequent visitor to the United States, where he obtained his Ph.D. in history. The administration has given no explanation for this decision.
A year later, in June 2006, government officials barred Professor John Milios of Greece from entering the country to attend an academic conference at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Milios, who had been in this country on five separate occasions between 1996 and 2003, was halted at JFK international airport, where he was questioned about his beliefs and associations. He reports having undergone similar questioning by the American consul in Athens when he returned to Greece.
The most recent incident occurred in October 2006, when Professor Adam Habib, a citizen of South Africa, was, like Melios, denied entry into the country upon his arrival at JFK airport. He had been scheduled to meet with officers of the Social Science Research Council, Columbia University, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Bank. A frequent visitor to the United States, Habib initially thought that perhaps he was mistakenly barred entry because he had once been detained as a political prisoner under South Africa’s apartheid regime. He abandoned the notion of bureaucratic error when the American consulate in Johannesburg informed his wife in early January of the State Department’s extraordinary decision to revoke her visa and those of their two small children for travel to this country.
No doubt these visa-denial decisions are colored by circumstances particular to each one. For example, the administration’s refusing entry to Cuban scholars, like its Cuban policy more broadly, has been heavily influenced by anti-Castro politics in Florida, a factor not at play in the other visa decisions.
The common thread in these decisions is that in none of them has the administration questioned the reasons given by the foreign scholars for visiting the U.S. as being false or even suspect. At a time of genuine concern about threats to national security, it is perhaps not surprising when the government overreaches in guarding our borders. Certainly this administration is not the first to keep foreign scholars out of the country. But a bad practice is not improved by repeating it.
The administration, instead of instilling confidence that it knows what it is doing to stop foreign visitors from harming us, invites cynicism when it bars scholars who wish to enter this country for legitimate academic reasons. With these decisions, it hampers our ability to learn from those whose experiences and knowledge can enrich our understanding of vital issues.
These visa decisions also teach the wrong lessons to foreign scholars. Barred from entering the country without explanation or for reasons that defy common sense, they are left with the impression that our government fears ideas almost as much as it fears bombs. That may be a false impression, but the administration has only itself to blame for decisions that encourage this kind of thinking.
Various groups have sharply criticized the government’s decisions in specific cases, but every opportunity should be pursued to remind the academic community and those outside it of the basic and central point that keeping legitimate scholars out of the country damages freedom. Also needed is more effective Congressional oversight of the visa process and of visa decisions that may impair the free circulation of ideas. And positive action by both the executive branch and Congress on new visa recommendations proposed by a coalition of organizations may help guard against the misuse of the visa system.
Plainly the government should erect high barriers to thwart real threats to the nation’s security. But it should abandon barriers to the visits of foreign scholars to this country and encourage the freest possible international movement of scholars and ideas. Such a policy could be a powerful means of enhancing the nation’s well-being.
Jonathan Knight directs the program in academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University ProfessorsÂ
Universities are not exempt from violence. From the National Guard shooting at Kent State University 37 years ago through the physical attacks on universities and assaults on academic freedom on every continent, there have been too many reminders to believe otherwise. I wince more than most because I have been a university administrator for the same 37 years -- 30 as a university president.
My outlook has grown gloomier in recent years. Two events stand out particularly. The first was the bombing, in a cafeteria, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2002. The second was a bombing in January at the Mustansiriya University, a Sunni institution, in Baghdad. “A suicide bomber and a car bomb killed at least 70 people and wounded 170 more at entrances to a once-prestigious university in Baghdad,” as reported by CNN.
I had become resigned to admitting that, to Palestinian terrorists, any Israeli target is acceptable just as, to Shia and Sunni terrorists, any Sunni or Shia target is acceptable. But this was only reason and experience speaking. Some more primitive, or wishful, part of my mind was trying to believe that terror had to stop somewhere, that the doorstep of the university or the mosque or the hospital was the boundary, that there are historic rules and norms of war. These two events put that belief, or hope, to rest.
A little optimism abided with me because I believed that the terrorists were few in number and nihilistic, but containable. Those involved in internal power struggles, however violent, had some rules of engagement. I learned otherwise in February when the Islamic University in Gaza, associated with Hamas, was attacked by members of Fatah and immediately afterwards Al Azhar University, next door and associated with Fatah, was attacked by Hamas. These were not acts of terror as I understand it, but battles in a civil war -- and they changed my outlook for the worse.
A Fatah spokesman said, “We didn’t attack the university because it was a university, but because [Hamas] gunmen were firing from there.” Even if this statement is true, it would be meaningless. Fatah and Hamas are fighting to control a Palestinian future. Destroying the institutions that give a state its value, like its universities, is nightmarishly absurd. It reminds me of Bên Tre in Vietnam where an American soldier was famously quoted as saying that “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
Is it naive or special pleading to define universities as different from other institutions and therefore deserving of different treatment? Even if we broaden the special category to include houses of worship and libraries, for example, does this make sense? A possible conclusion following from this premise would be that some places -- or, rather, their physical components -- are better or more deserving than others. That is not what I intend.
Acts of violence are not acceptable in a soccer stadium, a vegetable market, or a restaurant, nor even -- if this is possible -- slightly less awful than the same acts against a university. The victims are as dead or maimed irrespective of venue; moreover, the bricks of a classroom are no different morally from the bricks of a fish market.
But I do believe that the attack on an institution that represents the best values and aspirations of a society is in some ways different. The attacks at the two universities in Gaza did a great deal of damage to the physical plant of both institutions. But they also ripped the already torn fabric of Palestinian society yet again and in this way did more harm than if the rival gunmen had simply been firing at one another in and from two ordinary houses or office buildings. A Hamas leader, quoted in the same article, seems to have confirmed this idea, saying, “When we saw the university burning, it was like our hearts were burning because this institution is very dear to us.” After years of reading about mayhem in Gaza, this is the first time I have heard anyone speak in this way. Better had he admitted that the other university was very dear to Fatah, but his meaning remains clear.
Nothing will change the minds of terrorists. But others involved in violent struggles may be open to reason or, better still, feeling. Perhaps they can believe that there are some things, some institutions, that are off limits, not because of sentiment but on account of their value to their entire society and their future, regardless of faction. As educators, we should encourage discussion on these issues and impart on the next generation of leaders an urgency to seek solutions to these conflicts.
This may be a naive expectation, but it is the only way I retain any hope at all. If warring sides can agree that a university is off limits, maybe they will come to agree that the fish market and the bus station are, too.
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is president and professor of public administration at George Washington University.
More than ever before, American college students are studying abroad. They are going as part of classes or signing up for short term summer or semester-long programs. According to the Institute of International Education, 205,983 students studied abroad during the 2004-5 academic year, representing an increase of 144 percent over the past decade.
All of this has the potential to be good. Good for students, for American interests abroad, and for the world as a whole. International education can enhance our global competitiveness. Students who have traveled and studied overseas have greater capacity to learn languages and cultures. They are more confident and committed to their educational pursuits. They have more poise, self-esteem, autonomy, self-confidence, flexibility, maturity, self-reliance and improved social skills. Many of the capacities needed to compete in today’s “flat” world are acquired through international travel and immersion in other cultures.
As this work progresses, we would do well to remember that the desirable outcomes associated with studying abroad are neither automatic nor guaranteed under current conditions, nor can we measure success only by the number of students sent abroad. We need to be intentional and purposeful and might start by examining the difference between “high road” and “low road” models for international education.
Under low road models, universities and programs send college students into the world, with little preparation, for culturally thin experiences. Students make minimal effort to learn local languages or customs, travel in large groups, and are taught in American-only classrooms. They live and go to bars with other Americans, often drinking too much and getting into trouble. They see local sights through the windows of traveling buses. Far from experiencing another culture deeply and on its own terms, these students (at best) simply get the American college experience in a different time zone. It is worth noting as well that many of the study abroad destinations known as “fun” don’t even require language study and offer relatively minimal challenges to students’ sense of place and culture. These also happen to be the places with the highest percentage of students.
High road study abroad programs are developed to ensure deep cultural and language immersion. Students are oriented to understand and respect local customs and encouraged to take responsibility for projecting a positive image of Americans. High-road providers ensure that students become part of the culture by staying with local families and giving back to local communities. Examples include: the School for International Training, the School For Field Studies and the International Honors Program. Each of these organizations is working to create programs where students attend classes and participate in activities with local students and are taught by local staff who are paid fair wages and offer an inside view of the culture. Students learn that they return to the U.S. with an obligation to stay active, help others learn from their experiences, and push for better policies with regards to the developing world. These students become young intercultural emissaries, global citizens able to adapt and contribute to a complex world.
High road programs tend to be built with four principles in mind:
Commitment to scale and access. Currently, less than 8 percent of American college students study abroad, despite polling data that suggest most have an interest in doing so. Just as important, of that small percentage, less than 9 percent are black or Hispanic, even though these students constitute 25 percent of all college students. Stated differently, about 50 percent of the students who study abroad come from just 100 universities and colleges. We need to do better.
Emphasis on exposing students to less-traveled, less-understood destinations. Two-thirds of students who study abroad go to Europe. Only 15 percent go to Latin America, 7 percent to Asia, 3 percent to Africa, .5 percent to the Middle East. As geopolitical and economic power shifts, study abroad needs to keep up by including emerging regions of importance. Of course students should still study in Europe, but they should go on programs where they learn languages, are deeply immersed in cultures, and challenged by important themes in contemporary European society.
Plans for student “reentry” and opportunities for lifelong engagement. Students return from abroad filled with energy and excitement, often transformed by their experiences, but struggle to find opportunities and outlets for channeling their newfound energies. We need to harness and direct this energy towards lifelong learning, growth, and engagement in communities back home. There has been a tremendous amount of chatter within the higher education around civic education and engaging undergraduates. Harnessed correctly, study abroad may be as close to a solution as we will find.
Commitment to reciprocity. In this context, reciprocity might be defined as operating our programs in ways that strengthen the partners (e.g., community groups, individuals, and communities) we depend upon for the vitality of our programs. International education can either be perceived as one more thing the U.S. does at the expense of the rest of the world, or something that has economic and social benefits for host countries and communities. High road providers work in partnership with host communities. They bring needed revenues, networks, and other resources to these communities, while also maintaining a small and respectful footprint.
Some providers do this by paying attention to how they run their operations. They purposefully use local companies, keep the footprint small, and compensate local staff with good wages, benefits and professional development opportunities. Other providers are using community-based research and service-learning projects to connect students to local development efforts. The International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership is a good example.
But reciprocity can and should mean much more. For example, at the School for International Training, where I work, we recently signed an agreement with the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB). RUB is hosting students for a month on its campus. In return, SIT is using our network with 250 colleges and university to serve as a portal for RUB into American higher education. We arranged a tour for RUB administrators to visit their counterparts at a range of public and private universities. We are placing select RUB graduates into PhD programs. To make this happen (and bring things full circle) we are offering the universities who take RUB students financial aid for their students to come on our programs. Additionally, we are arranging for American faculty to spend time in Bhutan. In this form, reciprocity connects all the partners in loops that benefit American universities, study abroad providers, and community partners with clear intentionality and purpose.
All of this raises interesting questions that have yet to be fully explored:
Would it be OK if study abroad programs fall in short term numbers, but go up in quality? What would happen if the key indicator of success shifted from the number of participants to the magnitude of student learning outcomes?
How might universities create market demand for high road programs? Consistent with changes to accreditation, what would happen if universities required study abroad providers to document how programs meet particular learning outcomes and provided measurement of successes and failures?
How can we ensure greater access? This is an extremely important issue partly driven by price. We need to find creative methods to keep programs affordable. Part of it is also about moving study abroad beyond the liberal arts into the professions. We need programs for students who are studying nursing, hospitality, business, engineering and a range of other professions that reach beyond the liberal arts campuses.
Higher education is under growing pressure from politicians, parents and even our own accrediting agencies to better demonstrate value added for students, communities and the nation. Study abroad is a good example of how we can take something we are already doing and magnify the impact by being more purposeful and intentional with our desired outcomes and strategies for achieving them. In doing so, we can better position higher education to meet challenges around global competitiveness and public diplomacy, while also enhancing our humanitarian commitment to the world.
Adam Weinberg is the executive vice president of World Learning, where he also serves as the provost for the School for International Training.
"Global" is the buzzword on campuses throughout the country. With greater recognition of the threads connecting countries and cultures, educators are increasingly scrambling to integrate global lessons. But how can we properly prepare students to succeed in the global economy and to face challenges that cross borders? How can we prepare world citizens who can collaborate across cultures and countries and make a difference anywhere in the world?
There is no single path to creating a global university or a global curriculum. In fact, what you do is actually less important than how you view what you are doing. In other words, if you believe it is vital to prepare the next generation as world citizens, your methods will spring from that fundamental mindset. Innovations will arise from the imperative. And innovators are building tremendous programs throughout the country that spread knowledge of other countries and cultures, convey appreciation for the rich diversity and interconnected nature of our world, and instill intercultural competencies.
But many others are having trouble figuring out this global game, have limited access to resources and are surrounded by naysayers. At Fairleigh Dickinson, where in 2000 we introduced a mission to prepare world citizens through global education, we have worked hard to develop creative ways to integrate global lessons throughout our programs and activities. To those devoted toward the same end, we offer these 10 free tips and simple suggestions that can help internationalize your campus, globalize your classroom and turn your students into world citizens. Perhaps the best thing about these thoughts is that they can be translated into classroom activities or used as the base for larger programs and campus events.
1. Welcome Global Experts. Guest lecturers and speakers roam the planet looking for audiences and venues to introduce their ideas and insights. Invite them, make them feel at home and provide them opportunities to offer international perspectives on global subjects. Be sure to also seize the benefits of technology. Use videoconferencing to broadcast global scholars and use the Web for virtual presentations. At Fairleigh Dickinson, we have created Global Virtual Faculty, scholars and professionals from around the globe who contribute to the classroom via the Internet (see http://www.globaleducation.edu).
2. Connect to the United Nations. Regardless of its flaws, the United Nations represents the dominant international organization of our times, and it features a wide range of viewpoints and a rich arsenal of resources on global issues. FDU’s U.N. Pathways Program regularly brings students to U.N. headquarters for briefings and brings ambassadors to campus. But even if you are not located close to New York City, you can take advantage of features like U.N. Webcasts and videoconferences, the CyberSchoolBus (for teachers and young people) and, of course, the Model U.N.
3. Make It Current. In addition to the fact that students need to be connected to current events, today’s news items remind us constantly of global connections, diverse cultures and common destinies. But news itself is subject to different frames and viewpoints, providing interesting lessons in how perceptions vary. To keep current and to shed light on views from abroad, we recommend comparing news coverage of similar events from different countries. Check out the Internet Public Library for links to newspapers from around the world.
4. Give Students the Keys. Students have many areas of interest and concern that inevitably have global links and impact. In projects and programs, let them research these areas, and share their findings. In the undergraduate course we developed and introduced this spring semester, Globalization and World Citizenship, students create a Weblog that explores a global issue of personal interest. Students not only supply background information on the site, but also guides to action. In the process, they became not just scholars of the subject but activists capable of spreading information and understanding how to translate values into action. (To review the course outlines, assignments and resources, see http://webcampus.fdu.edu and use “fdu” as the username and password.)
5. Enter the Obvious Global Gateways. Too often we search long and far for global resources when we have a rich, international melting pot under our roof. We may not all have visiting scholars from exotic locales, but we all -- students and faculty alike -- have backgrounds that transcend borders. One example: International students at University of the Pacific, in California, hold an informal “international film festival” every two weeks, screening movies from their home countries. The event serves to build conversation and understanding on campus. Find ways for faculty and students on your campus to share personal backgrounds, insights and traditions that open new windows to other cultures. You’ll not only provide valuable learning opportunities, but you’ll bring community and classroom members closer together.
6. Whet the Appetite. Sometimes the way to global understanding goes though the stomach. The foods we relish and the menus at our favorite restaurants nicely illustrate the process of globalization and shed light on important cultural traditions. One easy exercise is to sample some menus (see http://www.usmenuguide.com) and trace the origin of foods and their contributions to different countries and cultures.
7. Move to the Beat. One surefire way to engage students is to fire up the iPod and tune into the tunes that travel the globe. From reggae to rock and rap, country to classic, the origins and influences of our favorite music read like a jet pilot’s itinerary. A fascinating exercise for students is to compare the various MTV channels and their respective Web sites around the globe. The differences and similarities highlight the promise and peril of cultural globalization.
8. Count the Change. Sooner or later, you’ll need to stop having so much fun with cultural lessons and get into dollars and yens. From the clothes they wear to the careers they will pursue, students’ lives are tightly interwoven with the global production process. Certainly read people like Thomas Friedman and Joseph Stiglitz, but don’t forget to make it personal. Ask students to compare wages in different countries, to trace the production of their favorite products, or to examine the economic clout of familiar corporations.
9. Put the Powerful on Trial. Political, economic and cultural issues are often revealed best by looking through the eyes of the opposition. Consider how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) react to the major political and economic institutions. For example, compare major companies’ Web sites with anti-corporate sites like wakeupwalmart.com or killercoke.org. Study the claims and contentions, offer rebuttals, and then referee the debates.
10. Become Bridge Builders. What better way to convey the interconnections that dominate than to make your own connections. Partner with institutions and programs abroad and, especially, link to classrooms and help students collaborate with students abroad. Have students engage in dialogues and activities with international students that consider big questions and involve contemplation and deliberation. While learning about issues, students inevitably will learn about the other and learn how to cooperate and act with the other.
There are some conspicuous areas -- such as foreign language study and study abroad -- that we have left off the list. This is not because we feel that these are not important. On the contrary, they are fundamental, but they also are obvious pieces of the puzzle that most campuses are already pursuing.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no one path that is right for everyone and every institution. There are so many avenues available. The richness of our different approaches can redefine American higher education.