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Global Priorities

Global Priorities

Mason’s global agenda continues to flourish in many ways with the establishment of the Global Office — a major step forward in coordination and facilitation. I should note that this blog itself was partly written by the Global VP, Anne Schiller.

An interesting challenge to global operations involves regional prioritization. Mason is recurrently criticized for not having a plan, and this column is meant, among other things, to assert that yes, we do. At the same time, lots of global opportunities present themselves unplanned, and some turn out to be really promising. Here, planning and opportunism combine.

Several years ago when we set out to amplify our global agenda, we agreed that our primary (never exclusive) focus would be on China and the Middle East. Chinese connections have developed splendidly. Middle Eastern activities have developed, but on a more scattered basis. Still, the priorities have been pursued.

It also has turned out that Russian collaborations, not initially a focus, have added to the list in very fruitful ways — here is a bit of the opportunism element.

Our early agenda also stipulated that after a few years we would focus new attention on Latin America, particularly Brazil.  And we have long realized the need to develop a more coherent approach to India. Here too, now that our initial priorities have been fleshed out, we can announce some new moves.

In Brazil, a recent initiative with the University of Brasilia has forged important ties with some dual degree potential. We have also added Portuguese language instruction and will be hiring a new faculty Brazilianist — a coordinated approach. In India, Indian students are our largest group of internationals, so we have a solid base already. We will also be adding faculty specialists in this regional area as well.

An additional exciting development that speaks to Mason’s interest in deepening ties to India and expanding our presence in that country is our application to the Institute of International Education’s (IEE) 2012 India Initiative of the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP).  Just last month Mason learned that it has been selected as one of ten participating institutions.

The IIE-IAPP program speaks to the goals of the Obama-Singh pledge to advance the U.S. – India global partnership through joint initiatives that promote education, trade and more.  Over the next year, the Global Strategies office staff, together with an advisory committee composed of deans, unit heads, faculty and students, will participate in training activities arranged by IIE to help implement and sustain partnerships with institutions in India.

The advisory committee will conduct an institution-wide inventory of India-related courses and activities and develop a strategic plan focused on partnership with India.  It will work with selected units to prepare an application to the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Grant Fund to support a team-teaching project between Mason and an Indian partner.  Mason will also offer cultural events related to India as well as engage in outreach to the broader Indian community throughout the coming year.