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Global Potpourri

19 Apr Posted by in Academics, Business | Comments Off on Global Potpourri

Every spring Mason’s international honors society, Phi Beta Delta, has a potluck social event, always very pleasant, with even better food than usual this time around. The occasion reminded me that a few comments on global developments might be useful.

One of the interesting, sometimes frustrating, features of global ventures involves the number of projects that have a positive start and then either lapse or disappear. We’ve certainly had our share this past half year – though some may rematerialize.

But without venturing a tedious comprehensive summary, there are some good things to report. We are finally making progress in firming up some dual degree arrangements at the Masters level, with programs approved or near approval with the University of Malta, in conflict analysis, and with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, in economics. Several other Russian projects are moving along, including international relations linked with St. Petersburg State. There’s real hope that some mutual students flows will result. We’ve already had excellent mutual faculty visits, for lectures programs than enhance regularly scheduled classes.  And other dual degree opportunities seem promising, including possibilities with institutions in Korea. Happily also, since I’m not always a fan, I can report that SACS is proposing new measures that will make international dual degree easier to approve, at the request of Virginia graduate schools including Mason.

I had thought we’d be a bit further along than we are with some consulting partnerships. But we do have a small venture in English language training with Kurdistan, in Iraq, and discussions in June with a colleague from Pakistan. Planning continues for the ambitious  project on community college development with the government of Sierra Leone. Some new Latin American links, as with the Catholic University of Peru, launch us in an area where we should be doing more in years to come. And a few other shoes may still drop.

The recent visit of the Turkish Prime Minister helped move potential collaborations with Turkey along. On another front, we will have a first small undergraduate cohort for our new Access program, designed to increase international student recruitment with a transition year prior to full admission.

The arrangement with Moscow State University, by which they send students in the second semester of freshman year to Mason, for another year and a half of instruction in Russian, by faculty from MSU, (followed by two years then in a Mason major) continues to be very promising. A first small cohort is here – they’ve become avid Caps fans, by all accounts. The instructors, who come for four-week stints, have been uniformly pleasant, and I think we’re beginning to make mutual connections with Mason faculty. I hope that next year we can have a few Mason students take at least one of the short courses, which will be beneficial all around.

None of this is to ignore our existing staple programs, like China 1-2-1, which continue to serve us very well and are really part of our normal fabric by now.  And I must emphasize how many faculty and staff work hard on the global projects, for this is truly a collaborative effort at home as well as overseas.

Despite some misfires, the global agenda constitutes a major success story overall.