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The recent symposium, "Globalization's Intellectual Challenge," commemorating President Václav Havel's receipt of an honorary degree, highlighted the tradition of the American public university from several viewpoints. In those ideas, along with the commentaries sparked by the symposium, we can find some of the most critical axes of debate around globalization's university challenge.
At the symposium, Jan Svejnar, Professor of Business Administration and of Economics and Director of the William Davidson Institute at the U-M Business School, suggested that the American university tradition poses important lessons for universities around the world, especially in the Czech lands of his birth. In order to reap the possible benefits of globalization, he argued that Czech authorities need to rethink higher education by "improving quality by tying funding to performance, and enabling more students to enroll by allocating significant resources to education." He also suggested that the first American university to systematically address globalization's opportunities for worldwide learning will set a new paradigm of excellence and consequence in higher education.
The delivery of global education is already realized to a considerable extent through the internationalization of the American campus and the consequent creation of a global diaspora of graduates from American universities. The University of Michigan is among the leaders in this global education, with over 14,000 graduates who live beyond the United States. During my last visit to Korea, for example, I met with a number of Michigan graduates in various professions who head an extraordinary alumni association with over 900 members. Our global alumni net-works will undoubtedly continue to grow as international applications to the University increase. For the first time, last year over 50 percent of the applicants to the Horace Rackham Graduate School were from abroad.
While a source of pride, this form of internationalization is also relatively passive. Students come from abroad to learn in an American institution, and take back with them American values and scholarly traditions. While certainly a great deal of shared learning takes place among students and faculty of different national origins, the tremendous value of that international presence is rarely used to its fullest. We need to send our students abroad for them to acquire the international disposition that students from abroad bring to Ann Arbor.
We also might go beyond that sense with which the University of Michigan acquired its past international reputation. President Lee Bollinger posed the reason for such reflection most succinctly at the Symposium:
We need to consider the extent to which we are going to take on an identification with people outside of our own borders…. [W]e do not have the same sense of collective responsibility, of shared responsibility, of shared identification with those individuals as we do with people in our own society. Over the past century, this university and many like it have added to our sense of responsibility to our state a sense of national responsibility as well. We supplemented the identification with citizens of the state with that of citizens of the nation. The question now is the extent to which over the next century we will entertain the idea of a broader identification.
The eight contributions to this Journal's debate articulates this identification implicitly or explicitly. Kathryn Dominguez and Jennifer Widner, for example, identify powerful global intellectual challenges to academic programs without explicit national markings, but in terms that privilege the reference of American academic institutions. Andrzej Nowak's academic references are more globally diverse, and explicitly linked to the economy's globalization. Although most of the challenges Geoff Eley poses also draw upon authors with some affiliation to the American academy, his points also challenge American - and Western - presumptions in globalization. Alexander Knysh and Steven Whiting mark their units' distinctions by their capacity to identify with Middle Eastern and European populations, respectively. Linda Lim and Siobán Harlow ultimately draw upon people and publics abroad to question the extent to which the American university has been and can be global.
One key challenge clearly rests on the nature of our identification not only with the world, but also with specific places and peoples across the world. During the Symposium, Provost Nancy Cantor articulated this challenge powerfully by linking our international strategy to the value of difference. She said,
Our capacity to work across international boundaries is aided by our ability to recognize the beauty and the challenge of the world's diversity….[O]ur commitment to global diversity rests on our investment in research and teaching about the languages, cultures, institutions and environments of this world. Our community of scholars can better understand and productively engage this increasingly interconnected planet by learning about and from each other, both abroad and right here in Ann Arbor.
When American universities go global, it is relatively easy for Americans to overlook the difference between national origins and global aspirations. For those nations that cannot imagine being globalization's architects, it's hard to miss. American universities have struggled hard to engage difference on the national level, and have worked to recognize how being white and male becomes the unmarked and default category for general discussions. That lesson can be extended to globalization. American universities might examine how their international strategies reflect an American accent that limits opportunities for learning, as Professor Lim suggests. In some cases, however, an American accent might shed new light on others' insights.
One of the most remarkable moments in the symposium came when Glenda Dickerson, Professor of Theatre and a Peabody-Award winning playwright, offered a dramatic reading of Václav Havel's prison writings. Her moving performance evoked the suffering, strength and humanity he had experienced through a language, medium and tradition far different from the original. For the Czech President and the entire 2000 person audience, this was an extraordinary moment of deep reflection on how the world has changed in the space of a few years. Through this performance, the Symposium realized one of its most important lessons. The university became a sanctuary.
The religious connotation is appropriate because the university should be a place apart. One might even call it a sacred space where values like freedom of inquiry and commitments to scholarship are preserved in a world whose pace of change and measure of interconnectedness can undermine the institutional distinction universities need to recall in order to preserve their core values. The university must be that space that forms, supports and moves people like Václav Havel, or the man at the center of his convocation address, President Thomas G. Masaryk, to articulate the truth in public. As Steven Whiting demonstrates, defending that commitment to truth, and the freedom of speech necessary to realizing truth's public value, can be one of our most effective expressions of the university's global mission. But how do we realize these commitments to global learning, diversity and truth in Ann Arbor and beyond?
President Bollinger acknowledged the U-M's longstanding international commitment. International students have attended the University of Michigan for well over a century. Study abroad programs have educated thousands of our students. Faculty have traveled across the world to collaborate with their colleagues, and some of those faculty have focused on the very problems involved in defining internationalism. The University of Michigan has one of the widest sets of opportunities for learning less commonly taught languages. These accomplishments, President Bollinger noted, set the initial framework within which we engage globalization's intellectual challenge. But those past frameworks, in and of themselves and without reflection, should not dictate our response to globalization. He asked,
Should we re-think with respect to internationalization, the framework of higher education that we've developed over the past century? Are our disciplinary boundaries inhibiting? Or, to what extent are they inhibiting, as well as enhancing, in our coming to terms with the issues of the exponential increase in globalization? Are there new things - or old things that must be looked at in a new light that we need to undertake to respond adequately? How should we reshape ourselves?
Our contributors vary substantially in their address to this question. Most appear able to address globalization within Michigan's present framework. Alexander Knysh is the most cautious in his commentary, recalling his own experience with those Soviet campaigns to "inculcate internationalism." His caution is also grounded in his Michigan locations - in a department and an interdisciplinary area studies center founded in their international reference, cultural diversity and deep connection to the peoples of the Middle East. Steven Whiting occupies a relatively similar position, but explicitly marks the university-wide value of area studies by demonstrating how it facilitates our connection to publics abroad, and to the globalization of university values around freedom and truth.
In some ways, Andrzej Nowak's account of the College of Engineering offers a stark contrast to area studies' starting point. The College has had to redirect its originating American reference to address the globalization of business and to meet the competition offered by engineers educated abroad. However, its core mission and principal stakeholders have not changed substantially. Likewise, Jennifer Widner poses radical questions for her discipline with the most substantial institutional restructuring taking place within the terms of her department and discipline. Although Kathryn Dominguez focuses on an interdisciplinary group organized around international economics, she frames their work in terms of consolidation more than restructuring. These five contributions would suggest, therefore, that globalization's university challenge requires investment in our existing organizational structures and capacities.
Geoff Eley's commentary appears to pose a more radical institutional challenge, for his questions presume no organizational limits. At the same time, those points can be safely expressed within existing scholarly frameworks. Historicizing globalization could easily remain the province of his home department, and challenging epistemologies could be contained within the Program for the Comparative Study of Social Transformations. Global cities also have been explored by scholars securely located in particular places, whether in sociology or urban planning, so long as those units recognize the value of interdisciplinary inquiry in their intellectual regulation. But globalization's challenge may also be limited by comfortable organizational boundaries.
Linda Lim challenges the ethnocentrism of university and business school practices directly. Globalization often focuses, she argues, on those ideas and practices that other parts of the world share with the American way. Those ideas and practices that are different are likely to be identified as local, and unworthy of serious study before a globalization presumed to make them obsolete. She finds that to be a serious mistake, and one that might be minimized to the extent area studies becomes part of the organizational intellect with global aspirations. Siobán Harlow also finds existing organizational structures limiting, but her critique goes further. Is the entire university, she asks, prepared to integrate the perspectives of scholars abroad and the needs of dispossessed publics across the world into its articulation of a global mission?
Globalization thus connotes a variety of sensibilities, and suggests no necessary challenge to existing organizational missions so long as its debate remains segregated. Its principal challenge may very well rest in reconfiguring those conventional divisions. To the extent that diversity and public responsibility come to frame our mission before the world, existing divisions of intellectual labor may impoverish us. But without our continued investment in those divisions, we may also undermine the cumulative scholarship that allows us to distinguish between perspective and theory, and between information and truth.