Globalization's ChallengeSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
This work is protected by copyright and may be linked to without seeking permission. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. :
For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy.
In what ways does globalization challenge the U-M? How is the University responding, or how should it respond? Eight faculty members, with different global engagements, from disciplines and schools across campus, offer their views.
Globalizing the IntellectLinda Lim, Associate Professor of International Business and Director, Southeast Asia Business Program, U-M Business School, Associate Director International Institute
U.S.global hegemony in the late 20th and early 21st centuries poses a particular intellectual challenge to American universities seeking to become "globalized" themselves. As with all hegemonic powers in history, there is a strong tendency to view oneself and one's values and standards as being de facto "global" or "universal"— not only in the obvious practical fields of science, technology, management and public policy, but also in the social and cultural spheres and in scholarship and education. Thus the "global" university located in the global hegemon assumes that it is natural for those from other countries, cultures and academes to pay obeisance to its unquestioned superiority at the top of a global pyramid of intellectual excellence.
Much like in the European colonial epoch that ended only half a century ago, this "global standard-bearing" is reflected in the fact that "they" come to "us" for enlightenment and participation in "our" scholarly agendas, to acquire "our knowledge, ostensibly for "their" benefit (as well as "ours"). There is little perceived need for reciprocity since "we," by definition, are "global," while "they" are only "local." A common articulation of this asymmetry is the oft-heard refrain, "Everyone speaks English now, so we don't need to learn other languages."
In this view, "globalization" of the American university may mean simply offering American programs and teaching American models to foreigners at home or abroad—as in "We have a campus in Singapore" or "We offer programs in London" or "International students are 30 percent of our class," ergo, we are "global." Or it may be taken to mean sending our own students or faculty abroad on "exchanges" for training, internship and research collaboration, many of which involve merely replicating or extending in "their" territory what we already do here, and conducted in our language, not theirs.
Importing talent from other countries to teach our students is often seen as another possible path to "globalization." It certainly increases the ethnic and nationality diversity of the faculty population, but this in itself does not necessarily mean a globalization of knowledge and intellect, as distinct from a globalization of personnel. The vast majority of foreign-born faculty—like nearly all the other foreign-born talent imported into the U.S. scientific, technical and industrial establishments—are in fields where "global" content is essentially American, or at least Western, in form and origin, because of a quite justifiable Western scientific and technological dominance e.g. in science, medicine, engineering and business.
Foreign-born faculty at American universities for the most part do not—nor should they be expected to—embody and impart specialized scholarly knowledge about their own cultures. The same is true of most foreign-born students. Thus, importing non- U.S. faculty and students does not provide an easy answer to the intellectual challenge of globalizing the American university. Indeed, it may actually undermine the globalization of the American intellectual universe if it results in institutionalization of the belief that "The rest of the world comes to us, so we don't have to learn about the rest of the world."
In this era of increasingly open borders, geographical and cultural mobility and the unquestioned supremacy of individual rights, the U.S. attracts "the best of the best" from around the world to its "world class" (i.e. "American standard") universities, R&D laboratories, entrepreneurial incubators and commercial centers. In this way it advances and cements it role as the global center of knowledge and wealth creation while simultaneously undermining the ability of other "feeder" countries to develop in this role.
It is not surprising, then, that so many around the world dismiss "globalization" as a smokescreen for "American domination," and are beginning to resist the spread or at least question the superiority of the "American gospel" of free markets and even of democracy. I have seen this resistance surface even in my nationally diversified MBA classroom, where many international students' hyper-sensitivity to U.S. hegemony interferes with rather than facilitates instruction and discussion on globalization and the world economy.
Many in our community of scholars and students reinforce this resistance when they act as if it is all right to ignore what makes the rest of the world different from "us" (the U.S.), while discussing only what makes it the same.
The hegemonic U.S. university's ethnocentric and parochial misidentification of the intellectual challenge of globalization could actually diminish our capacity to understand, interact with, and enrich the "globalized" world in which we live. Only rarely does it acknowledge the importance of globalization in the intellectual content of what its members research, study, teach and learn—the language, culture, business or scientific practices of the "other."
The University of Michigan's diverse area studies programs and resources, including training in "less-commonly-taught" but nonetheless populous languages (like Hindi, Thai and Indonesian) remain a rare and precious treasure that few other institutions can claim to match and that contribute much to the intellectual, as distinct from commercial, challenge of globalization today. In its efforts to come to terms with its mission as a global institution, the University might do well to keep in mind the words of Jack Welch of General Electric, arguably the most successful and widely-admired CEO in the U.S. (if not the world) today,
"The real challenge is to globalize the mind of the organization. Until an organization captures the intellects of other areas, it really does have a problem. Until you globalize intellect, you haven't really globalized the company." (Fortune 10/2/00, p. 178, emphases added.)
Crossing (Sub-Field) BordersJennifer Widner, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
In the 20th century, the major concern of political science was how to foster and sustain democracy, both at home and abroad. We learned many substantive lessons. We also learned humility. The institutions and technological changes implicit in "globalization" taught us the difficulty of finding enduring answers to the questions we have asked. Rather than reaching for broad covering laws that fit every time and place, we are now much more self-conscious about the effects of time, context, and human agency.
As we enter a new century, globalization is pushing political scientists to re-think their subject matter in several additional ways. First, the units of analysis are changing. During most of the 20th century, the sub-field of comparative politics concerned itself with domestic politics within countries and the sub-field of world politics dealt with relationships between states. Now, with changes in telecommunications and transportation, once purely domestic interest groups, movements, or political parties have international ties. The increasing importance of international agreements as sources of norms in economics, business, law and the environment also means that politicians must operate on two planes at once. Domestic politics shape the character of global agreements, but the results of these negotiations now affect events, institutions and beliefs in domestic political arenas too.
Second, new realities require us to re-think important normative questions. For example, for much of the 20th century, sovereignty was "juridical" in character, and governments that provided badly for the residents of their countries faced no challenges to their status as sovereigns from the international community. Recently the language of accountability and responsibility has entered conversations among policy makers. Tentative new international declarations base recognition of sovereignty on respect for human rights and other aspects of performance. What are the implications of this change? How should national leaders conceptualize their obligations toward citizens of their own country, compared to obligations toward citizens of other countries? Political theorists and lawyers, economists and empirical political scientists, need to team up to reflect on the changing character of sovereignty and its implications for values we all care about.
Or take another example: the character of public service is changing in important ways with globalization. Increasingly, public servants must be responsive not only to domestic constituents but also to international norms embedded in treaty obligations. Moreover, many of the most important challenges public servants face spill over national boundaries or have their origins in another part of the globe. There is remarkably little normative discussion of these issues and even less empirical research to provide guidance. New contributions to scholarship along these lines will be important for meeting these practical needs, but we can highlight the issues and examine arguments and evidence in our courses too, so that students become partners in this enterprise.
Third, as a result of these changes, conventional boundaries within the discipline are eroding. If it is now impossible to study domestic politics in most parts of the world without understanding how global agreements, diasporas, and social movements affect local ideas, attitudes, behavior, and even institutional design, the discipline's structure must alter correspondingly. For example, those who study comparative politics or American politics need to interact with colleagues in world politics. We should to encourage dissertation committees across sub-fields and consider appointments of faculty members who cross these boundaries. We may even want to consider re-organizing departments so that faculty recruitment focuses on enduring questions in the study of political life instead of traditional sub-fields.
Universities must approach these changes carefully. The pressure to redefine ourselves creates dangers as well as opportunities. As political scientists try to think broadly, they usually move to the systematic investigation of many cases drawn from different regions. As a result, area specialization receives less attention, lower status, and fewer resources. But without the maintenance of area expertise, the probability of developing and testing theories with "bad data" may increase. In the words of a Harvard colleague, "too broad can be too narrow." Glibness is a risk.
Moreover, traditional sub-field boundaries have a purpose, and departments must think creatively about new ways to fulfill the functions these divisions serve. For example, there is a broad societal interest in fostering expertise about politics in other parts of the world in this country. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Education has long offered incentives for the creation of area studies centers and area expertise in the disciplines. How should universities balance the demand for independent area expertise against the need to think about issues that cut across national and cultural boundaries? Moreover, it is all too easy for the standards applied in data-rich parts of the discipline, such as the study of American politics, to drive judgments about the form and character of research, as well as promotion and tenure. The old sub-field boundaries help limit the Americanization of the discipline. We need to ask under what conditions a shift in organization will promote the kinds of diversity essential to the creation of knowledge.
Rifts over the best way to handle the tension between generality and accuracy have led to a small upheaval within the American Political Science Association in recent months. Experiments here at the University of Michigan could help respond to the challenges in a constructive way and provide a vision at a time when the discipline needs one.
Globalling Towards BethlehemGeoff Eley, Sylvia L. Thrupp Collegiate Professor of Comparative History and Director, CSST
The all-pervasive rhetorics of "globalization" run the risk of wearying our colleagues. Moreover, their impatience reflects important critical doubts, and these deserve to be faced.
For example, historians of colonialism, of slavery, of capitalism's creation of the world economy, and of the rest's subjection to the West know well enough that globalism per se is nothing new. Likewise, recent international actions, with their confusing mélange of altruistic, self-interested and aggrandizing justifications, come as no surprise to students of decolonization, of the 19th-century civilizing mission, or of 1492. Marxists have also been long familiar with global capital flows and their far-reaching social and political effects, which free the capacity for progress only in the most contradictory and rebarbative ways. In other words, if we are all global now, we also need far more precise languages of analysis to clarify what exactly this condition might mean.
The University of Michigan's relationship to "the global" has many practical dimensions, from the creative recasting of undergraduate and professional curricula and the rethinking of the associated pedagogies to policy-related international collaborations, the furtherance of international exchanges, and the organizing of transnational intellectual communities. In these and other ways, the University can do invaluable work confronting the abiding parochialism of our country's public culture. But what are the intellectual tasks—for theory, for collective discussion, for concrete research agendas—that this relentless "globalizing" of "the international" has posed?
I see two overwhelming priorities. First, the epistemological fallout from the continuing critique of Eurocentrism needs to be thought through. The radicalism of that critique continues to unfold, from the now-classic contributions of Edward Said, Stuart Hall, Gyatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha and others, to the intensively concretized challenges of recent works like Dipesh Chakrabarty's Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference and Gyan Prakash's Another Reason Science and the Imagination of Modern India, or the appearance this year of the new journal Nepantla: Views from the South. But many usages of "globalization," particularly in the wider public sphere and much of the social sciences, remain blithely unfazed by these critiques. Interrogating that framework, especially neo-liberalism's redeployed languages of "modernity," is a first big need.
Secondly, the forms of politics engendered by globalization require far better understanding. So far, the disempowering consequences of global capital flows for national economic sovereignty have provoked the most extensive discussion, particularly with the strengthening of transnational regulative frameworks like NAFTA and the EU. These developments are harmful to the basic principles of democratic participation and accountability themselves. On the other hand, as some scholars have been arguing, "global cities" are generating their own distinctive solidarities and forms of communication, either by-passing the nation-state for the larger transnational region, or exchanging the national for reimagined arenas of the local. Elaborating the forms of analysis adequate for these times—institutionally, sociologically, culturally—is a second big task.
In both these ways, the epistemological and the political, talk of globalization desperately needs historical precision. Some features of the contemporary restructuring of the world are profoundly different from earlier patterns of international history, shockingly destructive in their contempt for apparently secure and valued socio-political achievements. Others, though, are quite continuous with processes in the past. Thus, defining the present's specificities is the most pressing aspect of our intellectual charge.
Some Words of CautionAlexander Knysh, Chairman, Department of Near Eastern Studies and Director, CMENAS
As any academic program specializing in the study of foreign societies, languages and cultures, my home units have been international and global from their very inception. The purpose of our academic disciplines is to understand distant cultures and how they interact with their neighbors far and near. For these purposes, the Middle East is a particularly rewarding object of study.
If there have been any changes in our fields of academic inquiry over the past two decades, it is the extent and intensity of our contacts with the area we study and with our colleagues all over the world. More than ever before we now have opportunities for travel and research in the countries of the Middle East as well as for participation in collaborative projects with our partners in the area. With some notable exceptions (e.g., Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan), the growing openness of Middle Eastern societies has facilitated our field research there and given us better access to local archives and archeological sites. Another important change is our greater awareness of research methodologies current in neighboring disciplines, especially anthropology, political science, sociology, comparative literature, post-colonial and subaltern studies, etc.
Since we were global from the outset, however, globalization is for us business as usual. And this is not just an exercise in self-glorification. Our faculty are extremely diverse. We represent a variety of teaching philosophies (European, Middle Eastern, and American),which we can easily deploy and adjust according to students' needs. We know the languages, cultures, religions and societies of the area first-hand, and not just as a variation of abstract socio-political or economic paradigms that come into fashion today and sink into obscurity tomorrow. Even more importantly, we maintain close personal ties with the people in the area, which gives us a better sense of their actual lives, fears and aspirations than any dry statistical data, which, in the Middle East at least, is both unreliable and subject to manipulation by the political authorities.
This brings me to my final point, that is, the implications of globalization for our university as a whole. In addressing it let me share with you a thought which may appear self-evident but which tends to be neglected amidst the "let's go global" rhetoric. My personal experience (as an individual raised and trained in Soviet Russia as a specialist on the Islamic Middle East) and my ongoing academic research tell me that the implications of the dramatic changes in information technologies, life-styles, economies, marketing and the mass media (combined with the disintegration of the old world order and its ideologies) cannot be uniform for all the societies affected by them. To put it bluntly, there is no one globalization, but many different local or regional versions of it. Moreover, these localized responses to globalization have vastly disparate consequences for various groups within one and the same society.
If we ignore these important local variations, our attempts to reach out to our potential partner institutions and individuals across the world might easily be construed by some as an attempt to impose upon them an "alien" educational, academic and ideological model. This, in turn, might be perceived by some members of these societies as part of a hidden strategy to "subjugate" them politically and culturally. This possibility calls for a cautious, region- and culture-specific implementation of our globalization strategy, once it has been developed. In a like vein, in addressing the phenomenon of "globalization" we should be frank and realistic about our "local" strengths and weaknesses as a university as well as its resources. Barring this, we risk to become a "global" all-things-to-all people with neither a clear goal nor mission.
I am sorry to end on this cautious note, but having lived through all manner of campaigns (e.g., to increase industrial productivity; to inculcate internationalism; to raise the cultural level of the countryside; to give power to the local councils; and to clamp down on alcohol consumption, etc.), I tend to be wary of all manner of grand projects and one-size-fits-all solutions. It seems wiser to launch and test a number of specific pilot projects rather than design one grandiose strategy and apply it uniformly to all societies and cultures without concern for their specificity.
Globalizing EconomicsKathryn Dominguez, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics
The University of Michigan has recently taken several initiatives to tighten its community of scholars focused on international economic issues. This community includes faculty and doctoral students from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the LS&A Departments of Economics and Political Science, the Business School, and the Law School, as well as participants from the International Institute, the William Davidson Institute, the Center for International Business Education and elsewhere on campus. A complementary set of four research seminars now serves to bring this group together and leaven its intellectual environment.
International economists have long been interested in better understanding why exchange rates move as they do, what determines patterns of international trade and how policies and markets can improve global welfare. More recently, the currency crises in Latin America, Asia and Russia spurred many of us to reconsider the causes and consequences of large currency movements. Additionally, the recent protests during WTO meetings prompted others to delve further into the politics of trade liberalization.
One way in which the University of Michigan has addressed the challenges of globalization is by affording its faculty the opportunity to think deeply about the many unanswered questions that our new global economy presents. The new seminars in international economics that were made possible by funding from the International Institute allow faculty and graduate students from around the University to meet together to exchange ideas, encourage and critique each other, and facilitate our collective understanding of the fundamental puzzles in international economics.
Last fall's events illustrate the range of intellectual activity encompassed by the new international seminars. The International Colloquium, one of the new seminars, featured MIT economics professors Abhijit Bannerjee and Roberto Rigobon presenting their recent theoretical and empirical analysis of contagion in international financial markets. Richard Clarida (Columbia University Economics Department), another Colloquium speaker, discussed the impact of monetary policy rules on international economic coordination. At the Graduate Student-Faculty Lunch (also a new series), Marina Whitman (U-M Business School and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy) presented her analysis of the global pressures and national responses of the evolving corporation. The same series featured James R. Hines Jr. (U-M Business School) discussing the American export tax subsidies that lie at the heart of the latest trade dispute between the United States and Europe.
These seminar series join two others in serving as forums for the discussion and analysis of the important international economic issues of our time. They are multidisciplinary while at the same time remaining true to the standards of the disciplines that are represented. The function of these seminar series is to advance the thinking of participants and the quality of the resulting scholarship in order to advance learning in this very important area of inquiry.
In bringing its diverse faculty and students together in this way, the University of Michigan improves the contribution of Michigan scholarship to our understanding of the economic impact of globalization and the impact of policy responses to globalization. This initiative does more than that, however, in constituting a mini-effort of our own to "globalize" the University.
Reflecting and RespondingSteven Whiting, Director, Center for European Studies and Associate Director, International Institute
Identification with "the international" can be as simple as following the news. Last February, Austria entered the news in a big way. In the wake of inconclusive national elections, the center-right People's Party (which had finished third) forged a coalition with the ultra-right Freedom Party (which had finished second), thereby closing out the Socialist Party and vaulting itself into the chancellorship. The see-saw between the People's Party and the Socialists was an old story. More worrisome was the resurgence of the Freedom Party, with its dubious distinction of being the only successful political party in Europe founded by and for former Nazis. Joerg Haider, leader of the party and the architect of its revival, had permitted himself any number of public remarks mitigating Austria's embrace of Nazism, attacking its immigration policies, and generally flying in the face of its membership in the European Union. The EU, for its part, responded swiftly to the spectres that seemed to issue from this unholy alliance, by imposing something like political isolation on Austria.
One service that an area studies center can render to the local community is that of being an early site of response to and reflection upon current affairs in a given region of the globe. A few days after the events in question, a query went out from the Center for European Studies to everyone on its mailing list: who had the expertise to shed light on the Austrian situation and the Union's response? In fairly short order, colleagues from German studies, history, comparative literature, law, and the German program at U-M Dearborn volunteered contributions to an informal roundtable at the International Institute, held last April.
In preparing for the roundtable, I came repeatedly across the name of Anton Pelinka, founder and chair of the political science department at Innsbruck University, whose post-war political history Austria: Out of the Shadow of the Past (1998) was praised as the most authoritative book on the subject. After hearing Pelinka speak at the biennial Europeanists' Conference in Chicago, I happily took advantage of Andrei Markovits's kind offer to invite Pelinka to Ann Arbor, for a public lecture under the aegis of the Center for European Studies.
An area studies center must not only plan events, it must act upon an awareness of the global responsibilities of a public university. In late May, news came that Professor Pelinka had been convicted of defaming Joerg Haider's character, by stating in a television interview that Haider had "trivialized" Nazism and made certain National Socialist positions seem "more politically acceptable." The lawsuit seemed a variation on a theme by McCarthy: Haider was using the courts to intimidate his critics. Moreover, the lawyer who initially filed the suit had since become the justice minister in Austria's coalition government. Such a threat to freedom of political speech demanded a response from Pelinka's academic colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic. Richard Mitten (Central European University) drafted an open letter of protest to Austrian President Thomas Klestil. The letter appeared on 15 June (to coincide with the European Union summit meeting in Portugal) in the Austrian daily Der Standard over the signatures of 35 academics, seven of them from the University of Michigan. I committed Center funds toward the purchase of this full page of "advertising"; as it turned out, Der Standard offered the space gratis.
Pelinka gave two public lectures here in September, and he met students in a 100- level course. Happily, he could report that the defamation verdict had figured prominently in the review of Austria's rights record commissioned by the European Court of Human Rights. We can only hope that the same court will see fit to overturn the verdict.
I occasionally confront the question, why, at a university with so much Europeanist expertise in so many different departments, a center for European studies should be necessary. (Change the regional adjectives as desired; the fundamental question remains.) Shouldn't such pursuits be left to the initiative of individual professors in the relevant departments? They can be. But as a musicologist in the School of Music, I could probably not take such an initiative very far. A center within a strong international institute provides swift access to a broad scholarly network, an expert staff with which to coordinate an event involving five disciplinary perspectives, and a place (an academic neutral zone) to hold it. Recognizing its global responsibilities, a center can throw its weight against infringements of academic freedom abroad. It can welcome the world to Ann Arbor. And when academic departments take their own international initiatives, it can offer support and applause, because our role is to help sharpen the international focus of the University at large . . . not to own it.
Honing the Competitive EdgeAndrzej S. Nowak, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
Engineering is becoming an increasingly international profession. Therefore, it is very important to prepare students for their careers in a global and competitive environment. Knowledge of the American way is not enough. Graduating students also need to know international standards and have exposure to international engineering practices. Interaction with foreign students in the United States is helpful but not sufficient. There is a need to encourage and facilitate study and work abroad for undergraduate and graduate students.
The world of engineering is rapidly changing and growing. Many American companies do business on foreign soil. Materials and parts cross international borders; they are manufactured in one country, shipped to another for assembly, and used in a third. The optimization of the production and sales procedures indicates a need for extensive coordination. Companies operating abroad perform their work using their own technical staff or local engineers. In both cases there is a need for communication and an understanding of the standards and regulations in both countries. Engineers educated in the U.S. are being exposed to foreign requirements and conditions more often. A lack of knowledge can lead to problems such as extra costs, delays and less competitive performance.
Language can also create a barrier in an increasingly competitive environment. It is a fact of life that English is the international language of business. In practice, all important engineering publications are either written in English or translated into English. There are situations, however, when the knowledge of local procedures and language can decidedly influence the success of a project. Similarly, there is a need for uniformity of codes and standards. Standardization is often a give and take process with some partners losing and others gaining. The former often resist the change. An example is the European Community, which is developing a new generation of Eurocodes. The process is very difficult, as different countries oppose changes that may lead to additional costs. Even in the United States, it is difficult to introduce uniform national code provisions to replace or supercede state codes.
Flexibility in hiring engineers from different countries requires uniformity in educational standards. There is a need for standardization of basic engineering programs. At the moment, basic pre-engineering courses such as mathematics, physics and chemistry are very similar all over the world. The differences show in specialized engineering courses. Foreign students are exposed to these differences as many of them come to the U.S. to study. As a result, American students have the opportunity for interaction with people of diverse backgrounds. While studying and working with international students and engineers in the United States is important, U.S. students still lack the experience that can be gained from spending some time abroad. They need exposure to foreign working conditions, practices, and other factors that affect productivity and ingenuity. Many leading European universities require all engineering students to spend several months working for a foreign company or research institute before graduation. They also strongly encourage study abroad programs. American universities should follow this example and develop more rigorous international exchange programs in order to increase opportunities for U.S. students to include one or two semesters abroad in their curriculum. Experiences like this will give many American students a competitive edge by preparing them for a career in a global engineering environment.
Creating New PartnershipsSioban D. Harlow, Director , Advanced Study Center and Associate Director, International Institute School of Public Health
Globalization, as the term is used to describe a new social era, reflects the ever- present challenge faced by academic institutions to incorporate contemporary society and its social problems in their teaching, research and scholarship. Given that we are in the midst of this particular societal transformation, the opportunity for examining our institutional capacity for rejuvenation and for the dissemination of critical knowledge across disciplines begs addressing.
One critique easily raised is why this phenomenon of globalization that emerged over a quarter of a century ago is only just now beginning to be substantively discussed within many of our academic units and by the institution as a whole. Clearly, globalization has been the subject of explicit inquiry in specific disciplines for years. Sociologists, political scientists and others began describing and developing theory about the processes that have resulted in fundamental changes in industrial structures and financial markets than 20 years ago. However, many other disciplines and schools have yet to seriously grapple with this social transformation.
Within my own field of public health, the implications of and responsibilities engendered by globalization have yet to have a substantive and visible impact on our curricula, our research methodologies, our funding structures, or our practice. For example, it remains virtually impossible to obtain funding to conduct research on the impact of women's work on women's health in developing countries despite the facts that export-led development is built on the labor of women and that this question has long been defined as a critical issue by health scholars in Mexico and elsewhere. Similarly, the public health infrastructure is not adequate in many countries to contend with the occupational and environmental regulatory demands of the incredibly rapid industrialization and urbanization which accompany the globalization of industry, yet our current training models can never satisfactorily meet that emerging need. Of fundamental concern is the fact that the concept of transnationalism and its implications for the practice of public health is seldom given voice.
For the University, the critical issue here is that public health is not a unique example but a typical case. Social transformations as substantive as globalization arguably should transform scholarship and training across the disciplines, and it is incumbent on the University to translate the scholarship that emerged in the social sciences into a substantive re-evaluation of priorities for scholarship and curricular development across disciplines and units.
During a recent encounter of faculty from across the University, it was argued that inter-unit as well as interdisciplinary engagement is essential for understanding large scale phenomena such as globalization. Although the University of Michigan is acknowledged to be a leader in efforts to foster interdisciplinary scholarship, in the case of globalization the current interdisciplinary constellations are insufficient. The development of more effective institutional structures for compelling and productive inter-unit engagement and training across critical schools is needed if this challenge of globalization to the University is to be met.
Yet, as others have argued, globalization presents a larger challenge, one embedded in the recognition that the societal impact of the phenomena of globalization is no longer confined to structural transformations in industrial productivity or financial markets or to technological transformations in communication systems. The larger challenge is how we, as a U.S. university, embrace the possibilities embodied in these structural and technological transformations and re-imagine the form, content and context of our connection and engagement with the world.
The University of Michigan's discourses around internationalization can easily replicate discourses that emphasize globalization's impact on markets and consumers. It is easy, after all, to envision models of global education in market terms, to simply replicate education "as we know it" elsewhere. The challenge of globalization is to imagine how our educational mission and resources might permit us to create new partnerships with scholars and institutions in other regions. Specifically, we might consider how such partnerships would best be constructed to more effectively incorporate the perspective and research of scholars from other regions in the content of our curriculum, the goals of our training programs and the focus of our research. The intellectual challenge of globalization is thus not simply to evaluate what opportunities the new technology offers for communication and dissemination but to consider how this technology changes our responsibility and relationship to the world's scholarship.
Finally, we must consider the problem of identifying the niches this university can most productively and successfully develop. The opportunities for new engagements are numerous, but educational and scholarly innovation and impact requires focusing of the University's resources on a prioritized set of major engagements and, possibly, with specific regional partners. The challenge will be to articulate a democratic and inclusive process through which to identify those opportunities which most warrant our investment.