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Global Engagement Is a Form of Alchemy

By New York University President Linda G. Mills:

This summer, as smoke clouds from Canadian wildfires hung over New York City, I could not shake the feeling of how intertwined we all are.

The orange haze covering hundreds of miles across two countries was a vivid reminder that our most pressing problems know no bounds. From climate change to inequality, the future of work to infectious diseases, the challenges we face are global and interconnected. To make a positive impact on communities around the world, institutions must be as far-reaching, not just in orientation but also in infrastructure. Universities need to step up to this role more fully.

Over the past 20 years, NYU has developed an unmatched global presence by creating degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, in addition to our primary New York campus. We have strengthened that presence with a network of 12 urban academic centres for study and research. This structure has helped us break out of institutional and geographical boundaries, work across disciplinary silos and rethink the nature of a 21st-century comprehensive education.

Scholar-to-scholar connections have long been global. What has changed is the emerging interest in institution-to-institution connections. As NYU’s new president, I will build on this openness to support NYU colleagues around the world in coming together to tackle today’s most vexing questions.

This new receptiveness manifests itself in many forms. From the partnership NYU Shanghai has with East China Normal University to Stanford’s research hub with Peking University; from Europe’s Erasmus+ programme to NYU’s recent partnership with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), which over the past year has brought together more than 100 faculty members from both institutions; from Georgia Tech’s collaboration with CNRS in France to Carnegie Mellon’s degree programme with ITESM in Mexico – what is demonstrable is a changing attitude. As at NYU, a growing number of universities share a belief in global engagement to foster cross-national, multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research.

Read the rest of the article in Time Higher Education.