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One of the greatest opportunities and challenges before us at the International Institute is to deepen and extend our university‘s engagement with the world. When some alumni at Camp Michigania heard this opening to my recent lecture, they raised the expected challenge almost immediately: the university is already international and has been for quite some time. That is part of the opportunity, and challenge, of my new job. I want to recognize and facilitate the range of international engagements across this university. And by grounding these engagements in diversity and collaboration, I seek to elaborate not only a core mission for the International Institute, but to work with others to develop a coordinated sense of Michigan as an extraordinary university of the world.
All universities engage the world. Studies of ancient civilizations have long been an important aspect of higher education. Travel beyond one‘s nation was assumed to be the proper extension and refinement of university learning. These practices had been embedded historically in privilege, but World War II and its aftermath significantly extended the international in American universities. Both refugees and returning GI‘s brought dispositions and experiences from across the world into the American classroom. During the Cold War, our sense of national security depended not only on knowing the great powers but also the rest of the world where the battle with communism would be waged. Although political scientists were foremost in these programs, the area studies that developed depended on a broader conversation that drew on those in the humanities and history expert in these geographical arenas, and more occasionally on those who worked in anthropology, economics, public health, sociology, and other disciplines. This engagement with the world provided enormous intellectual and material support for those who would go beyond their nation. I happened to focus on Poland for my doctoral dissertation in sociology.
Of course the university‘s engagement of the international was never defined exclusively by the priorities of national security. Other studies of the world were developed beyond and within that mission and the funding sources it provided. These practices were significantly expanded by "globalization," the increasing ease and speed with which different parts of the world encounter one another, and the increasing degree to which the variety of the world enters any nation. Every department and school can be swept up in the globalization of their fields. Valuable conferences, colleagues and data from beyond one‘s nation are the most ready indicators of this shift. As each unit globalizes, its field of expertise produces a sense of the core issues attending internationalization. Contesting claims to competence and priority are to be expected. The founding of the International Institute itself reflected this new moment of the university‘s global encounter, and David William Cohen was recruited to perform a herculean task as its director.
David has accomplished an enormous amount. I watched this process in close proximity while I was director of the Program for the Comparative Study of Social Transformations and then as director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies. He has overseen new joint appointments in international studies and promoted a refined coordination among area studies centers, the latter facilitated by II‘s relocation within its new building. He has stimulated the development of an innovative Advanced Study Center and ambitious Journal and has encouraged many other activities that have helped to define the core of II activities. He has both supported and relied on the initiatives of colleagues from a wide range of fields and disciplines to define many critical II activities. At the same time he has responded as best as his resources would allow to the enormous demand to support internationalization throughout the university. Most immediately, David‘s coordination of the internal and external review of the II has contributed significantly to the definition of the position I now occupy.
Provost Nancy Cantor has asked me to become Vice Provost for International Affairs and director of the International Institute. This elevation of the II director‘s position represents her commitment to the internationalization of the university, and extends significantly the Institute‘s capacity to realize its mission to serve the whole university. One of my first priorities is to travel the university to learn about the experiences of various academic units with, and plans for, reaching beyond this nation. One of our greatest needs is to share our expertise and insight so that we might not only recognize the value of our university‘s existing accomplishments, but also anticipate where greater collaboration might extend them. Toward that end, Provost Cantor has committed support for the appointment of an associate director. In the course of my conversations in the next few months, I shall identify a partner who can enhance the Institute‘s university-wide mission and help to refine the meaning of the global University of Michigan.
Dean Patricia Gurin has also been extraordinarily supportive of my appointment and of the II during her year as interim dean of LS&A. Together with Provost Cantor, she has helped to refine the II‘s enduring relationship to the College. The history of area studies, one of the special charges of the International Institute, is deeply woven into the texture of LS&A. I am delighted that we can continue that special commitment to the international in literature, science and the arts even as area studies itself develops its engagement with the other schools of this university. I look forward to working with our new dean, Shirley Neuman, as we explore II‘s more visible location both within and beyond LS&A. In fact, this more explicit multiple commitment resonates with our new Ford grant to refine the mission of the International Institute.
The Ford Foundation has awarded a grant to the International Institute to elaborate the new conjunction of international competencies in formation at this university. We shall extend the engagement of deep contextual expertise, comparative studies, and the reconstruction of theory and practice within and across global regions. This project builds generally on the broad reach and long history of area studies at the U-M, and specifically during the grant‘s first phase, which allowed us to bring specialists from different world areas into focused topical conversations. With support from the Ford Foundation for a second grant period, the International Institute will elaborate a field of learning predicated on the grounding of knowledge, the translation of understanding, and the application of expertise. Each of these areas will be a theme for organizing seminars in 2000, 2001 and 2002, culminating in a conference on this conjunction of interests in the fall of 2002. This grant also provides for direct support of graduate student training, and will be the object of special workshops in Warsaw, Istanbul, Cuzco and Ann Arbor during the three years. We will also support more topical inquiries into social problems, conflict and negotiated revolutions, empire and national identity, expertise before modernity, and the challenges to American-based professions through internationalization. These initiatives call for sustained interaction with scholars and institutions from across the world, for the realization of the university‘s international goals depends not only on collaboration across this campus, but also a deepening of ties with colleagues and institutions from across the world.
Our mission depends not only on refining our research and enhancing our graduate education but also on enhancing the international for our undergraduate students. Excellence in education today depends on more than assuring that our students master specialized bodies of knowledge and acquire a broad appreciation for learning that is the mark of inspiring instruction. It also requires a shift in vision. Success in any field today will require a capacity to engage the global. We must not only prepare our students for that future, but inspire them to work toward it. And we must make it available and sensible to those who might not consider international studies part of their birthright. One of my top priorities is to identify how to make undergraduate learning more conducive to an international future.
The U-M is also in a position to realize a new kind of contribution to global learning. This exceptional institution is noted for its world-class accomplishments across many spheres of expertise, but we can do more to elaborate the consequences of those insights for global publics. In this vein, I take the conference on the 1989 Polish Round Table last spring as an important lesson. Not only did the event assemble leading figures in the making of recent Polish history, as well as those engaged in the public spheres of China, Cuba and Europe. With the support of President Bollinger, we also brought leading public figures from our own state, including Governor Engler and Senator Levin, together with leaders from abroad, including President Kwasniewski of Poland. We can make the University a site for more encounters of this kind, where academic, political, civic and private sector leaders can assemble to help us reconstruct a global mission suitable for a university of our caliber, for the opportunities and challenges that we face.
On July 1, 1999 Michael D. Kennedy was appointed Vice Provost for International Affairs and director of the International Institute. An associate professor of sociology, Kennedy has previously served as director of the Program for the Comparative Study of Social Transformations (CSST) and director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES). Kennedy has been at the U-M since 1986. His is the author Professionals, Power and Solidarity in Poland: A Critical Sociology of Soviet-type Society (1991) and editor of Envisioning Eastern Europe: Postcommunist Cultural Studies (1994). At the request of the Journal , he prepared this statement discussing his goals for the II.