Global Initiatives

Dean Oates shares insights on creating global initiatives

WPI Dean of Arts & Sciences Karen Kashmanian Oates presented a webinar on “Creating a Global Initiative: Strategies, Design, and Implementation” last month, to a National Center for Civic and Science Engagement (NCCSE) audience. Webinar participants included representatives from institutions looking to globalize in a way that offers benefits on multiple platforms.

Karen Kashmanian Oates

Working alongside people from different cultures and backgrounds offers invaluable learning for both sides, and their respective institutions, Oates said, with a broader perspective opening up new ideas as solutions to problems. The theory behind this approach is represented with WPI’s Global Projects Program—students can work in Australia implementing IT after-school programs at a community center, for example.

Oates stressed the importance of going beyond just global curriculum to the building of purposeful, integrated regional and international relationships. These relationships, she said, result in networks that better equip all sides in solving problems, recruiting students and faculty, and promoting institutions as forward-thinking entities. These relationships don’t happen overnight and must be fostered, but are the foundation of a successful globalization, she said.

For many institutions, the global approach can be piecemeal, Oates said.

But benefits of a well-integrated globalization strategy that stretches beyond curriculum and into extracurricular activities, research efforts, and the service mission, are many.

The faculty, Oates said, gets access to a worldwide network of experts. Employment recruiting expands beyond the U.S. Opportunities for research collaborations expand, as do access to grants and sponsorships, she noted. The institution itself can better attract students and faculty and enhance its brand. Alumni all over the world can have opportunities to help their alma mater. And last, but not least, student benefits include richer engagement, new opportunities for research, relevant learning, sharper analytical skills, and networking with those of different races, languages, and backgrounds.

Oates presented a seven-point plan involving internships, an International Scholar in Residence program, international student clubs, co-ops, external investments, and global projects.

It’s only through proactive measures, said Oates, that leaders in solving world problems can develop and thrive.