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Global Universities and Economic Development

26 Mar Posted by in Academics, Business | 1 comment

Mason has been pushing its global agenda for some time now, thanks to lots of faculty activity and high levels of student interest. The approach involves study abroad, basic curriculum for gen ed through the new global affairs programs (and many others), enhanced international recruitment and our various international collaborations We’ve always justified the thrust here in terms of providing educational essentials and expanding opportunities for our students, benefits both to our nation and our international partners from educational interaction, enhanced opportunities for faculty (including larger research horizons), and reputational gains for Mason.

These criteria remain both valid and fundamental. Recently, however, in part from our new Governor, an inquiry has emerged about how global contacts, of the sort that Mason has developed, might also be used to enhance regional economic development. We actually have a bit of a track record here too, thanks principally to the Mason Enterprise Center. Roger Stough and others have worked with various international partners on economic development issues abroad but have also facilitated Virginia extensions of several emerging companies, for example from Romania. We can obviously consider doing more of this. We can certainly help local companies find appropriately trained personnel (from our student body, among other places) when they seek to expand activities in places like China or Russia. We are beginning to set up seminars, through our School of Management primarily, on doing business in places like the Middle East. But I think it’s an interesting challenge to think about how the combination of global reach and regional advantage can be extended, and I would welcome other ideas about this. There need be no conflict between this additional interest and the basic goals of improving international collaboration and understanding through education. Imaginative thinking about how to expand the range here will be highly desirable.