Marking the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies held a symposium addressing "International studies in the American research university: The path ahead" on November 14-15, 2011. The symposium brought together distinguished scholars from peer universities and institutions as well as faculty, staff, and students from across campus to discuss the major opportunities and challenges facing international studies programs.
Fredrik Logevall, Director of the Einaudi Center, opened the event by outlining three main objectives: to celebrate the Einaudi Center's achievements, to reflect on the changing role of international studies in the American research university, and to consider how best to chart a course for the future. He then gave a short history of the Center; in particular, recognizing the efforts of Professor Mario Einaudi. According to Logevall, Professor Einaudi's vision laid the foundation for the Center as a pioneer in international studies. Logevall concluded by calling upon the symposium participants and attendees to pursue innovative approaches to international studies, especially in difficult financial times. Before introducing Cornell President David Skorton, he announced the creation of a new postdoctoral fellowship in global affairs with a likely emphasis on security studies thanks to the generosity of the Bartels family.
President David Skorton's presentation on "Bringing Cornell to the world and the world to Cornell" outlined his vision of international studies at Cornell and the Einaudi Center's role. He stated that "if we are to educate our students in global citizenship, we must offer them language study, an understanding of history and cultures beyond their own, and meaningful international experiences." He also called for replenishing faculty ranks with scholars who bring an international dimension to teaching and research and to expanding efforts to fundraise for international studies. In order to define the strategic vision of Cornell's internationalization, President Skorton announced the formation of a committee "to expedite broad, but at the same time focused, university-wide discussion and planning led by faculty" and a formal international advisory board composed of alumni, diplomats, and development professionals from the private sector and academia to advise on "the design, implementation and assessment of Cornell's international programs."
Craig Calhoun, President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), gave the second presentation, dealing with "Trends in international studies at U.S. universities." Calhoun began by providing a background of the development of international studies over the past 140 years, with an understanding of how changing U.S. orientations to the world, migration, religion, wars, economic globalization, and activism have influenced its transformations. Calhoun believes that the field of international studies has most recently undergone a reorientation since 2001. New global challenges and geopolitical complexities necessitate a refined international perspective for programs; in particular, changing global power structures, new understandings of geographies and histories, and the return of geopolitics. Additionally, international studies in the United States must adjust to the internationalization of education itself.
Similarly, Barbara Hill, Senior Associate for Internationalization at the American Council on Education (ACE), presented on "U.S. trends in internationalization: implications for institutional strategies." Hill gave four recommendations to international studies programs. First, schools must focus on their curriculum to ensure that all students engage in global learning. Second, increased investment in faculty will help in the internationalization process, especially with regard to research, teaching and learning, and service. Third, institutions should articulate a strategy that includes global learning goals and assessment plans. Finally, universities must promote active leadership among faculty and staff in the realm of internationalization.
Stephen Hanson, Vice Provost for International Affairs at the College of William and Mary, then moved to the issue of area studies programs. His presentation, "Area studies, Title VI, and the future of internationalization," addressed the specific challenges to area studies as an organizing principle within international studies. He identified the main threats as dwindling political support within the academy, with the perception that globalization has made area studies outdated, and the loss of funding at the foundation, state, and federal level. Hanson pointed to his own experience as a scholar of Russian/post-communist studies to illustrate how Title VI funding is essential in promoting international studies research.
Next to the podium was Donald Filer, Yale University Associate Secretary and Director of the Office of International Affairs. Filer presented a description of Yale's strategic approach to providing support for internationalization. He said that Yale's main challenge was to identify how to provide adequate administrative support and infrastructure to such efforts. This challenge has been approached with the creation of the Office of International Affairs, which encourages international activity by sharing information across the university, removing barriers, and providing services. Filer stated that these activities have "been critical to increasing our ability and capacity for new international activities."
Logevall then gave his reflections on the state of the Center at fifty years. He noted that the Einaudi Center provides "a forum for a broad dialogue that cuts across the disciplines [and] continues to make a key contribution to the university's reputation around the world for excellence in international area studies and thematic area studies"; however, after failing to adequately build on its reputation and rich history in international studies over the years, it is no longer the leader it once was. Logevall stated that Cornell should reinvigorate and re-imagine interdisciplinary international studies, even if the task is complex, and continue to invest in lesser-taught language instruction, an area where "Cornell has been a leader since World War II."
The symposium's first panel discussion, chaired by Alice Pell, Vice Provost for International Relations, focused on "International studies and international education." All of the panel participants agreed that connecting study abroad to a student's academic interests represents the major challenge for international education. Greg Blocki, a Cornell student in Anthropology and Psychology who participated in the Cornell in Nepal program, argued that advertisement for programs should be broadened to all relevant disciplines. Donald Filer specifically referred to the underrepresentation of the sciences in study abroad. According to Rebecca Stoltzfus, Professor and Director of the Global Health Program at Cornell, international studies programs must augment the personal development of its students into actors in the world. Dick Gaulton, Director of Cornell Abroad, further emphasized that in order to prevent academic tourism, study abroad programs must make sense given a student's overall academic objectives. Ultimately, experiential learning through language and cultural interaction has to supplement the academic aspects to create a meaningful program.
The symposium kicked off its second day with a panel discussion on "Language studies and their relationship to international studies," led by Gil Levine, Professor Emeritus and former Interim Director of the Einaudi Center. The discussion began with Sydney van Morgan, Associate Director of the Cornell Institute for European Studies, who summarized the state of language studies at Cornell. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Cornell offered 32 modern foreign languages, putting it in the top 10 of U.S. universities for number of available languages. However, she identified several major challenges including the attachment of languages to cultural programs, lack of understanding between language instruction and internationalizing goals, and inadequate language integration within majors and minors. Dick Feldman, Director of the Cornell Language Resource Center, proposed establishing a "language exchange system" whereby two schools could cooperate on distance learning initiatives to expand opportunities for each institution. Lastly, Tim Gorman, a graduate student in Development Sociology, distinguished between traditional and non-traditional language learners. Students in academic programs with a "traditional" need for language study, such as history and political science, require a high level of fluency before conducting fieldwork. However, students in "non-traditional" programs, such the sciences, law and public policy, may not aim for full fluency but rather a technical working vocabulary. For these students, schools should integrate languages into traineeships.
Next up was "Area studies and their relationship to thematic studies," a discussion moderated by Valerie Bunce, Professor and Director of the Cornell Institute for European Studies. Tamara Loos, Associate Professor and Director of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell, emphasized the value added of area studies programs in that faculty retention rates stay high due to program loyalty. Muna Ndulo, Professor and Director of the Institute for African Development at Cornell, argued that universities need to better integrate international issues into domestic courses, and thematic programs should strive to influence policy as well. Jonathan Kirshner, Professor and Director of the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Cornell, expanded upon Professor Ndulo's argument by warning against "disciplinary homogeneity" in the pursuit of rankings.
In its final panel, "The way ahead at Cornell," chaired by Fredrik Logevall, the symposium turned to the future of international studies. Alice Pell stressed the importance of planning and organization in achieving President Skorton's goal of fifty percent student involvement in international education at Cornell. Nicolas van de Walle, Professor and Chair of Government at Cornell, asserted that the current institutional structure is unsustainable and that more top-down leadership and alumni support is needed. Lastly, Chris Barrett, Professor and Associate Director for Economic Development Programs at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell, highlighted the need to remain faithful to core principles of multidisciplinarity and language capacity.
In his concluding remarks, Einaudi Center Director Logevall thanked all who made the symposium possible including presenters, panel members, and the Einaudi Center staff. He highlighted the terrific discussions showing some points of disagreement and, at the same time, showing fundamental consensus on the importance of international studies in general and the Einaudi Center and its associated programs in particular. The symposium was a first step in looking at ways to respond to the challenges international studies at Cornell faces—not least those involving resources—and to identify opportunities. He concluded that "Cornell needs a strong Einaudi Center, and international studies must operate as a dimension that bears upon much, if not all, that is done at the university."
You can find more information on the symposium in two stories in the Chronicle Online (www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov11/Einaudi50Logevall.html and www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov11/Einaudi50Skorton.html). In addition, videos of President Skorton's opening address and the closing panel discussion on the path ahead are featured on Cornell Cast (http://www.cornell.edu/video/).