What, exactly, do we mean when we say “global studies?”
“That’s the central question,” Niklaus Steiner, the director of the Center for Global Initiatives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said when pressed by an assistant provost in his audience who asked, “What is the intellectual justification for global studies? What do you bring that’s new?”
“What’s the central answer?”
“I see hands going up,” Steiner said, smiling, not-so-deftly dodging the question but clearing the way for further discussion on the emerging field and its place in the academy.
When American colleges propose forging collaborations or building campuses in places like Abu Dhabi or Dubai, questions about human rights and whether gender, religion or sexuality could limit access or opportunities are never far behind. In most cases (though not all), colleges succeed in largely quelling those concerns when it comes to operating in the United Arab Emirates.
In many discussions about the international standing of American higher education, China is the 800-pound gorilla -- the emerging scientific and technological superpower whose newfound focus on building a first-class postsecondary system poses a major threat to the national economic competitiveness and individual well being in the United States.