Global Perspectives for a Hopeful Future
David Law, the Editor of AUA’s Perspectives from 2012-2020, has recently been tempted out of (partial) retirement. From 1 November 2020 he will be Academic Director: Global Partnerships at Keele University. He continues as Chair of AUA’s International Higher Education Network and he is a Lead Consultant at AUA Consulting.
I suppose that every British university, and most of those in other countries, says something like: ‘We help our students and staff develop as global citizens’. If universities fail to do this, and fail to recognise an obligation to do so, there must be something wrong!
At a time of global health crisis, it might be said that, it is not a good time to plan for internationalisation. The current context makes planning for an international strategy difficult and subject to frequent change, not to speak of the substantial restrictions on travel. But internationalisation does not have to focus on international travel. Arguably, too often the architects of international strategy are mainly concerned with physical mobility. Once this was only in one direction: inwards. Now it is bi-directional. But still it revolves around travel.
I would suggest that in a university, internationalisation is a process of development. Because knowledge transcends frontiers and borders, all centres of higher learning have an intrinsic international dimension. This can be enhanced or sometimes restricted by institutional policy but there is never a final point at which it can said ‘we have arrived’. We need to see internationalisation as being about the mind (or the mind set) as much as it is about the body (where we are).
In conditions of semi-lockdown it is surely essential to sustain forward thinking and not lapse into reactivity or perhaps demoralisation.
At this time of crisis it seems to me we need a global perspective. Anything less will diminish our capacity to thrive and meet the challenges we face. Around us I see a tendency for ‘inwardness’ as a protective response. Surely we should stand with those who advocate global citizenship informed by empathy. One such advocate, and very voluble over many years, is Jonathon Porritt, the University of Keele Chancellor. Check out his lecture to UCL students a few years back using this link.
Most students, it seems to me, recognise that major issues such as climate change and global health require international engagement. Our students represent a future full of hope. University leaders must provide supporting frameworks to foster their enthusiasm and commitment.
If you’d like to find out how AUA Consulting can help your organisation explore the issues discussed in this blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you would like to have a conversation, call +44 (0)161 275 2063. Find out more at www.aua.ac.uk/aua-consulting.