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Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14

Goal 3: Realize Penn State’s Potential as a Global University
Goal 3: Realize Penn State’s Potential as a Global University
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Many American universities traditionally viewed internationalization as being of marginal benefit to the institution. Despite some individual researchers who work with international collaborators when it benefits their research, much of the faculty has had successful research programs without any international component. At the same time, education abroad is recognized as being beneficial to a student’s program, but it is usually peripheral to the primary focus on the degree requirements of a specific major. With a few exceptions, an international experience is seldom an integral part of a student’s education.

All of this is changing. In an increasing number of areas, but particularly in the sciences, international collaborations are now essential. For others, such collaborations open the door to new ideas, new resources, and additional opportunities for success. In an increasingly globalized world, global competency is now an essential component of any undergraduate’s education. For many, practical experience in collaborative work across cultural or linguistic barriers is highly valued by prospective employers. Over the next ten to twenty years, the top tier of the world’s universities will be defined by those that move beyond this point and emerge as global institutions: universities whose faculty, staff, and students work and study in a global context.

Universities such as Penn State are grounded in a particular place, and engagement with local and state institutions and communities will always be an important part of the University’s mission. There is no doubt, however, that the local is now heavily influenced by the global, and that the trend toward globalization in all areas—economic, political, social, and cultural—will continue. Whether we look at financial markets, food production and distribution, energy security, regional conflicts, terrorism, or global climate change, what happens on the global stage has a direct impact on all of our lives. We can’t serve our local constituency without being engaged globally; as more and more of our daily life is influenced by global-scale processes and events, we can’t maintain a leadership position in higher education and research unless we take the next steps of becoming a global university.